The petitioner, a resident of Bronx County who was born in the State of Georgia, asked the Court for orders reflecting “their” name and sex designation changes, on petitioner’s New York identification, as well as on their Georgia birth certificate.
In his July 19, 2022, decision in Matter of N.K., New York City Civil Court Judge Jeffrey S. Zellan granted the petition to change the name on the New York State and City -issued identification, as well as on the petitioner’s Georgia birth certificate.
Judge Zellan also granted the application to change the sex designation on any and all New York State and City-issued identification from “female” to the gender-neutral, non-binary gender designation of “X.” The New York aspects were covered under Civil Rights Law §§63, 67 and 67-a.
Section 67, part of the Gender Recognition Act, effective December 21, 2021, provides:
§ 67. Petition for change of sex designation. 1. A petition for leave
to change sex designation may be made by a resident of the state to the
county court of the county or the supreme court in the county in which
such resident resides, or, if such resident resides in the city of New
York, either to the supreme court or to any branch of the civil court of
the city of New York, in any county of the city of New York. The
petition to change the sex designation of an infant may be made by the
infant through either of such infant’s parents, or by such infant’s
general guardian or by the guardian of such infant’s person.
2. When an individual petitions the court to recognize their gender
identity or to amend the sex designation on an identity document, the
court shall issue such an order upon receipt of an affidavit from such
individual attesting to their gender identity or reason for the change.
No additional medical evidence shall be required to grant such request.
No such order shall be required to amend an identity document issued
within New York state. No such order shall be required to otherwise
recognize the gender of an individual and treat them consistent with
their gender identity within New York state or under New York state law.
No fee shall be charged for a request for judicial intervention
associated with a petition to change sex designation.
However, the laws of Georgia, rather than New York, controlled any amendments to the petitioner’s birth certificate. Judge Zellan noted that Georgia law expressly permitted the proposed change of name under the facts and supporting documents provided by petitioner. Pursuant to O.C.G.A. §31-10-23(d), upon receipt of a certified copy of an order from a court of competent jurisdiction changing the name of a person born in Georgia and upon request of such person the state registrar shall amend the certificate of birth to show the new name.
However, as to the gender identification, Judge Zellan noted that the Georgia law concerning amendments to birth certificates, from one binary gender designation to another binary gender designation (i.e., male to female or female to male), did not appear to be applicable.
The Court was not aware of any law or regulation in Georgia expressly addressing, providing for, or prohibiting the petitioner’s requested choice. Finding no Georgia laws or regulations to the contrary, Judge Zellan found that petitioner was entitled to seek and obtain from the Georgia Department of Public Health a discretionary amendment of petitioner’s birth certificate, or a special amended birth certificate, to reflect the requested gender-neutral, non-binary designation. The Georgia regulations permitted the State Registrar, an officer of the Georgia Department of Public Health, to amend birth certificates by certain stated methods. Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. R. 511-1-3-.31.