The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund has announced earlier this morning that the city of New York has adopted a new policy created to ensure that transgender people have equal access to marriage licenses!
The policy was adopted as part of an agreement to resolve possible legal action involving a transgender couple who attempted to marry in the Bronx in December 2009. They fulfilled all of the requirements for receiving a marriage license in NYC and presented their government-issued photo identification (the only ID required by the City Clerk's Office). Rather than issue them their marriage license, the City Clerk refused and instead demanded that they both show their birth certificates before they could be married (which is not required of other marriage license applicants).
What's interesting in this case is the fact that the couple has 'opposite' gender identities and expressions currently... but their birth sexes are also 'opposite' ... by all accounts making withholding a marriage license impossible and illegal even under the most homophobic marriage laws. Clearly, this is a hideous case of blatant, unabashed transphobia.
Fortunately now, under the terms of the new policy, which was issued February 7, 2011, once a marriage license applicant produces the required photo ID, the City Clerk may not request additional proof of sex. So regardless of birth sex, which has often been used to withhold marriage licenses from transgender couples, folks can no longer be challenged if they present proper photo ID. City Clerk employees are forbidden from considering the applicant's appearance or preconceived notions related to gender expression when deciding whether to issue a marriage license.
And in addition to the new policy, the City Clerk must formally apologize to the couple AND implement training for all City Clerk employees on issues relating to gender identity and/or expression... as well as ensuring that the couple is free to marry at a time and place of their choosing.