New York City Works to Ensure Transgender People Have Equal Access to Marriage Licenses; Center Provides Training to City Clerks
This morning the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center was thrilled to hear that New York City has implemented measures to ensure that transgender people have equal access to marriage licenses. As part of that effort the Office of the City Clerk is instituting training for all City Clerk staff to ensure they are culturally competent on issues relating to gender identity and expression; the office reached out to the Center for our guidance and expertise in this area in early February. Today the Center’s Director of Community Services, Carrie Davis, a social worker and expert on gender identity issues, conducted the first of several trainings for City Clerk employees happening throughout the Month of March.
The changes were enacted after a transgender couple was refused a marriage license in 2009 and sought the help of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. As NBC reported:
The transgender woman, who had been born as a male, and her opposite sex partner, who was born female, were denied a license to marry at the Bronx office of the City Clerk in December 2009. When the pair supplied identification, a worker in the clerk’s office asked for birth certificates in addition to the ID.
New Yorkers seeking marriage licenses are not required to show birth certificates if they produce government-issued photo ID.
After the couple threatened legal action and sought help from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, City Clerk Michael McSweeney told employees this week that all marriage license applicants must be treated with dignity, and that transgendered applicants only need to produce the same ID as anyone else.
Quinn said Tuesday that the decision “ensures that all New Yorkers will be treated equally, and with the dignity and respect they deserve from a government agency.”
“Transgender people are challenged all the time about their status as men and women,” said Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. “We applaud the City Clerk’s office for adopting this policy and for taking steps to ensure that this does not happen again.”
The Center’s Training Institute offers specialized training sessions for professionals who work with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the New York City area. Achieving culturally competent training to work with the LGBT community is essential to conducting business in a city as diverse as New York. Our series of trainings has been carefully developed to offer important information, resources, and creative skills to help enhance the lives of LGBT clients. You can learn more by watching this video from our Gender Identity Project. ”Transgender Basics” is a 20 minute educational film on concepts of gender and transgender people and we are showing the film to the City Clerk staff as part of our training with them.
The Center applauds the efforts of Speaker Christine Quinn and TLDEF and commends the city for taking this step to ensure that transgender New Yorkers applying for marriage licenses will be treated equally from now on, and look forward to continuing our training sessions.