A rainbow of confetti burst into the air at Pier 59 after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Gender Recognition Act into law on June 24.
In honor of Pride Week and the 10-year anniversary of marriage equality in New York state, Cuomo, elected officials, and activists marked the occasion with another step forward in LGBTQ+ equality by affording transgender and gender-nonconforming New Yorkers the option for their IDs to reflect who they truly are.
“The Gender Recognition Act eliminates barriers that undermine the health, safety, and equality of people because of their gender. It affirms basic human dignity, and it ends discrimination,” Cuomo said on Thursday afternoon before a crowd of LGBTQ+ onlookers.
The Gender Recognition Act also removes extra medical hurdles for trans and non-binary New Yorkers. Individuals will not be mandated to show a doctor’s note when changing their gender marker on their ID. The birth certificate provision solidifies policies in place in New York State allowing minors to update their birth certificate. In New York City, the law already permits individuals to update birth certificates with an “x” gender marker.
“Gender recognition is the next step forward,” Cuomo said, “It allows parents to change their name on birth certificates and allows each individual to identify their own gender not by any government design form. New York state is the progressive capital of the nation.”
The bill signing coincides with the 10 year anniversary of marriage equality in New York State. Manhattan Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell, who helped lead the fight for marriage rights and spearheaded the lower chamber’s passage of the Gender Recognition Act, celebrated after the bill was signed into law.
“I am proud of our progress on LGBTQ rights in the last 10 years and am deeply honored to continue that work with the Gender Recognition Act, which will make life safer for trans individuals, reduce stigma, and affirm trans individuals’ identities,” O’Donnell said in a statement. “Our work for equal rights is far from over, but we have proven that love is love, that trans lives matter, and that we are ready for the fights ahead.”
The Gender Recognition Act was led in the State Senate by Brad Hoylman of Manhattan. The bill passed the Assembly on June 8 and the State Senate on June 10.
“Getting the Gender Recognition Act over the finish line and signed into law is a wonderful way to celebrate Pride month in New York,” Hoylman said in a written statement. “Each and every New Yorker should be recognized for who they are by their government. But today, it remains incredibly hard for many New Yorkers to get the identification documents they require for travel, to get a job, and even to go to school. This bill will change that, making it easier for gender non-conforming, transgender, non-binary, and intersex New Yorkers — including minors — to get IDs that accurately reflect their identity.”
Historical figures such as Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and so many others were saluted during Thursday’s celebration at Pier 59 as trail blazers who helped pave the way for the LGBTQ+ community.
In addition to these activities, Kristen Browde, co-chair of the National Trans Bar Association, stated that Cuomo has been an ally for the LGBTQ+ community, and thanked him for giving love a chance.
“Ten years ago today, he signed the bill that brought marriage equality to New York,” Browde said, listing the laws that followed further pushing for equality such as, the ban on conversion therapy, the child parent security act, walking while trans ban and other progressive orders.
“When we couldn’t get laws in the state and the assembly because the senate blocked them, he signed executive orders and that led to the passage of those laws and the signing of those laws,” Browde added.
“We will not accept that love between an LGBTQ+ couple and a heterosexual couple is any different. That the love in the LGBTQ+ is any less profound or deep or real. We fought and people said the fight was impossible,” Cuomo added. “We said no. We would accept nothing less. We were right and we won.”
Cuomo emphasized that when New York does something it sets a precedence, causing other states to follow suit.
“When we make New York better, we make the nation better,” Cuomo said. “When New York wins we say we believe the strongest four-letter word is still love, not hate. After all of these battles we’ve learned one thing: Love wins every time.”