Houston Transgender Boy Sues NY State Over Sex on Birth Certificate

Close-up of a stack of birth certificates.
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A transgender teen living in Houston sued New York state Tuesday, claiming a discriminatory policy is forcing him to rely on a document that inaccurately portrays his identity.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in Albany argues that transgender minors should have the ability to correct their New York state birth certificates, something that minors with documents issued in New York City and some other states can already do. Transgender adults who have not undergone sex reassignment surgery have been able to change the gender listed on their New York state birth certificates since 2014.

The 14-year-old high schooler was born in Ithaca and listed as a female at birth, according to the lawsuit bought by Lambda Legal. The boy, identified in the lawsuit only by the initials M.H.W., said he was frustrated by his incorrect birth certificate.

"This is really just wanting for our son the same recognition that any other kid has, that most kids just take for granted, that most parents take for granted," co-plaintiff Michael Sicinski, the boy's father, told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

M.H.W., who now lives in Houston, began undergoing hormone replacement therapy in September, according to the lawsuit. A court in Texas approved his name change in October and his mother, Jennifer Wingard, said his U.S. passport and Social Security card list him as male.

Wingard said she's concerned that her son could face anxiety-provoking problems next year when he applies for a learner's permit because of mismatched identity documents. The boy has already been humiliated by having to explain to agents of the Transportation Security Agency why the name on his plane ticket did not match his gender on official records, according to his parents.

The lawsuit said New York's rule could compel transgender minors outside of New York City to reveal "private and sensitive information" about themselves when they enroll in school or seek a job.

The lawsuit naming Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration's health commissioner seeks a change in state policy and a corrected birth certificate for M.H.W.

The Cuomo administration did not immediately respond to a call and an email seeking comment Tuesday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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