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Cuomo signs gender recognition law

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs the Gender Recognition Act at a ceremony in New York on Thursday, June 24, 2021.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday signed into a law the Gender Recognition Act, which is aimed at reducing discrimination against transgender and nonbinary New Yorkers.

The New York State Legislature approved the measure earlier this month. 

Under the law, a New Yorker who wants to change their gender listed on an official identification document or in a court proceeding no longer needs a doctor’s permission or have to present medical evidence to obtain those changes.

Parents named on a child’s birth certificate no longer have to choose between father or mother -- they will also have the option of identifying as a “parent” -- and New Yorkers will also be given the option of choosing a gender-neutral “X” on documents, instead of being limited to choosing between male or female, a practice already allowed in New York City.

Cuomo, who signed the measure at a ceremony with LGBTQ+ community leaders, said it will eliminate barriers that undermine the health and safety of people because of their gender.

“It affirms basic human dignity, and it ends discrimination,” Cuomo said.

The governor signed the bill just weeks after his daughter Michaela Kennedy Cuomo shared in a social media post that she identifies as queer. Cuomo did not mention his daughter in his speech, but at the time said that he was proud of her and loves and supports her.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.