Three transgender New Yorkers have filed a lawsuit against the city after the New York City Health Department had required that they obey its law to have sex reassignment surgery.
The lawsuit has been filed in their behalf by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) in the state Supreme Court, on the claim that many transgender people cannot afford the surgical procedures and that, requiring surgery amounts to discrimination.
The documentation they possess in their passports, that records their gender change and the Social Security accounts with a doctor's certification that the person has had appropriate clinical treatment prove that their transition has been verified.
Different states in the US have different laws on how transgender Americans can change their birth certificates. Idaho, Ohio and Tennessee ban any change to the birth certificate at all. Some require a court order, and some, like New York, require proof of a surgical procedure.
The expensive surgical procedure prevents most from opting for surgery. This affects their identification documents and when these do not match with their appearance, they lose opportunities to improve the quality of living. The consequence is most transgender people live in extreme poverty, often attempting suicide. They report harassment in education, employment, housing and health care, as well as in the government and prison systems.
The TLDEF lawyer, Noah Lewis refers to the report the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) has brought out on the problem of discrimination, when he argues their case. He claims the surgery New York City demands should actually be a decision between the individual and the doctor.