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Victory in Nassau County!


Transcend Legal successfully advocated for Nassau County to remove a burdensome requirement for name-change petitions. Now petitioners will have a much easier time of getting their identity documents updated so they can live more securely.

Up until last week, Nassau County in Long Island was the only county in New York to require that all name change petitions be mailed to the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services 30 days prior to filing with the court. This caused a month delay, extra trips to court and the post office, and an added expense. It caused a lot of confusion and delay for pro se filers—people filing on their own behalf—because Nassau County refused to accept the statewide DIY forms available from the court’s website.

For trans people eager to have their identity documents reflect their name and gender, these were deeply frustrating hurdles.

Transcend Legal advocated for an end to this requirement. We met with the NYS Unified Court System’s Access to Justice Program to raise the issue, and we are thrilled to report that as of February 8, Nassau County no longer requires pre-filing notice and now accepts the statewide forms!

While this is exciting news, our work is not yet done. Nassau and some other courts continue to require post-granting notice to the Department of Homeland Security. Such notice, which is not required under the name change statute, can deter undocumented people from changing their names and should be eliminated.

Donate now to help us continue our work!

Long Island Trans & GNC Expo

Charlie Arrowood, Lacey, and Noah Lewis

On Sunday, February 12, attorneys Noah Lewis and Charlie Arrowood, along with Lacey—a volunteer and former pro bono name change client—participated in the first annual Long Island Trans & GNC Resource Expo at Pride for Youth in Bellmore, NY. The Expo brought together a wide variety of direct-services providers and resource groups including Northwell Health’s Center for Transgender Care, the Transgender Resource Center of Long Island, Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition, and Pride for Youth’s TransAction program.

The first event of its type on Long Island to focus exclusively on services by and for the trans community, the Expo was a huge success with over 70 attendees! Transcend met with almost 20 people to answer questions and get them started with the name and gender change process. Some will be filing on their own, while others will be working with pro bono attorneys who attend a training we are scheduling for next month.


Bias in NYS birth certificate policy


In the course of our work, we find that the particular concerns of one client reflect larger injustices that trans people face nationwide.

Cassidy, one of our name-change clients, was unable to get the letter necessary to change the sex on her New York State birth certificate. The NYS Department of Health requires doctors to get these letters notarized, and her doctor had no access to a notary public. In New York, doctors are authorized to provide sworn affirmations without signing in front of a notary public. New York City, which issues its own birth certificates, does not require doctor letters to be notarized.

We have previously convened advocates for a call to brief the State on issues trans people face when seeking to correct their birth certificates. We submitted a memo with recommended changes.

When we asked the State about the requirement, they explained that “transgender people are so desperate to have their birth certificate amended that they will indeed forge the letter from the Doctor,” and said they had seen one such case. This raises the question of why a doctor’s letter is needed at all to change the birth certificate. After all, countries such as Argentina, Denmark, Colombia, Malta, Ireland, and New Zealand have implemented self-attestation gender change policies for documents including birth certificates, national ID cards, and passports.

In this particular instance, our staff attorney Charlie travelled out to the doctor’s office in Eastern Suffolk and notarized the letter for our client. But such unnecessary hurdles—rooted in the idea that trans people are deceivers—must be eliminated, and we will continue to raise this issue in our policy advocacy with the State.


Since our last newsletter...

Cecilia Gentili, Ida Hammer and Noah Lewis at the first Transcend Legal board meeting.
  • Transcend Legal held its first board meeting with board members Cecilia Gentili and Ida Hammer!
  • Over 90 grassroots trans leaders from around the U.S. (and Zimbabwe!) joined a call convened by Transcend Legal, Trans United Fund, TransLatin@ Coalition, LaGender, & Casa Ruby LGBT Community Center for a historic, grassroots, trans led, trans focused organizing call!
  • Noah was invited to present at the two support groups for parents and caregivers of trans kids at the Ackerman Institute’s Gender & Family Project. He explained the legal landscape under the new administration, with an emphasis on the legal protections that remain in place.
  • Noah also presented on a panel at the trans institute at Creating Change and at a bioethics class at Hofstra University.
  • Charlie tabled at a job fair at Touro Law Center, and Noah attended the Public Interest Law Career Fair at NYU and interviewed summer legal intern candidates.
  • Noah also turned 40! He asked friends & family to donate $40 to Transcend Legal. Thanks to everyone who donated!
Charlie Arrowood, Lacey, and Noah Lewis
Donate now to help us continue our work!