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Proposed Rules: Open to Comments (View Public Comments Received:51)

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Agency:
Comment By: 
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Proposed Rules Content: 
 
 

Statement of Basis and Purpose

Introduction

            Birth and death records are protected from access by the general public because they contain individually identifiable information, which is considered private.  A birth certificate contains the first and last name of the person whose birth is being registered, date of birth, sex, home address, and mother’s maiden name.  In addition to information about the decedent, a death certificate contains the first and last name of parents, surviving spouse, and individual reporting the death.  All of this information is individually identifiable information within the meaning of Health Code section 3.25, which as the notes accompanying that section’s adoption state, “will be treated with the utmost confidentiality.”  Yet, birth and death records are also important historical documents that at some point should be available to historians and families researching their ancestries.  For this reason, Administrative Code section 17-170(b) charges the Board with deciding when the original records of births and deaths filed with the Department, and the indexes to such records, should become public records and transferred to the Department of Records and Information Services (“DORIS”).

The proposed rule amendment would, if approved by the Board of Health, amend the Health Code to establish fixed schedules for making these records public and transferring them to DORIS. Specifically, the Department is proposing that:

    • a birth record become a public record on January 31st of the year following 125 years after the date of birth, and
    • a death record becomes a public record on January 31st of the year following 75 years after the date of death.

The Department believes that these proposed schedules balance the need to protect the personal information of people who may be alive, especially as it relates to the problem of identity theft as well as other privacy issues, with the public’s right to access historically important records, including the specific interests of families, genealogists and other researchers.  The proposed schedule would also avoid the transfer of records to DORIS that are, in the Department’s experience, still subject to amendment by the individual to whom the record pertains, the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, the courts, or family members. 

If the Board adopts this proposal to commence amending the Health Code, the Department is very interested in receiving comments about the appropriateness of these time periods, in particular both from privacy groups and genealogists, and about adopting a 50-year confidentiality period for death records rather than the 75-year period proposed here. 

Background and New Requirements

Birth and death records

In New York City, as in most vital records jurisdictions nationwide, the certificate of birth collects a wealth of information, pertaining both to the person registered on the record and their family members. On the birth record, this includes: the registrant’s date of birth, location of birth, and sex; the mother’s and father’s names prior to first marriage, places of birth, and dates of birth; as well as the number of children delivered at the time of birth, and a home address.  Death certificates, in addition to presenting date and cause of death, include date of birth, location of death, names of parents, as well as information on the surviving spouse and the living person known as the  informant, including their name, relationship to decedent and mailing address.  This type of personal identifying information (“PII”) is protected in other contexts under multiple federal, State, and local privacy laws.

Necessary and appropriate use of birth and death certificates and information

Information included in birth records and actual copies of birth certifications are required by multiple governmental agencies and private entities to receive a benefit or service, or to support the issuance of other documents often used for identity purposes such as obtaining a driver’s license. Birth records are considered “foundational documents,” meaning they are often the first document obtained that enables the holder to then obtain other important documents.  For example, the information contained in a birth certificate can also be used as part of the process to get a U.S. passport or Social Security card and to access public benefits such as Medicaid.

Death records and the PII included in them are used to open or close decedents’ bank accounts, notify federal agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration of a death, and to start the probate process in court.  They are also needed to access payments such as life insurance and various survivor’s benefits in pensions and other programs. 

Fraudulent and inappropriate use of birth and death certificates and information

            The PII found on birth and death certificates has the potential to be used in various fraudulent ways, including identity theft.  Identity theft involves appropriating PII and, in the name of that person, incurring debt, taking money from financial accounts, opening new accounts, accessing medical information or services, or receiving a tax refund, among other things.   Indeed, birth certificates are often referred to as “breeder documents” because they can be used to obtain other valid forms of identity.   Information from death certificates can be used in a similar manner, sometimes referred to as “ghosting.”     

Amendment and correction of birth and death records/issuance of new birth certificates

Birth and death certificates are considered “living” documents in that their content can be changed in certain circumstances.  Pursuant to Article 207 of the Health Code, their contents may be amended or corrected, or a new birth certificate issued, to correct errors made in the originals or to reflect changes in circumstances, such as adoption or change in gender.  These are common requests from Vital Records customers.  During the five-year period from 2012 to 2016, the Department processed 1,030 birth record corrections and amendments for individuals born in 1940 and earlier, including 24 delayed registrations of birth and amendments for individuals aged 90 and above.  During the same five year period, the Department also processed 257 death record corrections and amendments for individuals who died in 1970 and earlier.  These are legal changes to records requested by living New Yorkers or their survivors.  Pursuant to Health Code § 207.01(a), only the Commissioner of Health or his or her designee may make these changes.  Similarly, death certificates may be changed by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner when a cause or manner of death is amended, an important function as new facts come to light.  

When such changes are made to birth certificates, Administrative Code section 17-167(c) requires the substitution of the new birth record for the one on file.  The Department must place the original birth certificate under seal, which may not be broken except by order of a court of competent jurisdiction, and must provide the new birth certificate when a certified copy of the record is issued.  Amending a birth certificate after it has been released into the public domain undermines the Department’s ability to fully substitute the amended certificate for the original and effectively seal the prior records, as the law describes. Over time, multiple versions of the same birth records could even be circulating in the public domain, diminishing the reliability of these records and creating confusion around authenticity.  For these reasons, as well as similar risks to death certificates, it is important the Department not make these documents publically available while they are likely to still be amended.  

Privacy concerns

In addition to the financial and security concerns discussed above, simple privacy concerns argue for maintaining the confidentiality of birth and death certificate PII during a person’s lifetime and for an appropriate period after.  For example, a teenage mother named on the death certificate of an infant may still be alive 75 years after her infant had died or the birth certificate of a transgender person may reveal information that person may prefer to keep private, especially if the certificate has not been amended.  

New Yorkers are living longer

New Yorkers are living longer than ever before. The 2010 US Census shows that almost a half-million New Yorkers are over the age of 75.

Age

Total

75 – 79

178,019

80 – 84

142,272

85 – 89

90,375

90 – 94

37,270

95 – 99

11,665

100+

2,096

Total

461,697

 

Another half million were between the ages of 65 and 74.   Since 2010, the American Community Survey estimates that the total number of New York City residents age 75 and over had increased to more than 492,000, with more than 1.25 million over the age of 65.   In 2005, 585 New Yorkers died between the ages of 100 and 114.  In 2014, that number rose to 806 deaths between the ages of 100 and 114, a 38% increase, and in 2015 the number rose to 901.  Birth and death data should be protected to adequately reflect these trends to guard against identity theft and fraud.  

Model State Vital Statistics Act and Regulations (2011 Revision)

The Model State Vital Statistics Act and Regulations (“Model Law”)  were developed to serve as models for vital records jurisdictions in preparing their own laws and regulations.  Now in its sixth revision, the Model Law is a cooperative effort among state governments and the federal National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  In 2011 the Model Law was revised to reflect the increase in life expectancy since the prior revision in 1992.  In order to ensure that no person’s PII becomes public prior to a person’s death, the Model Law now recommends that birth records not be released until 125 years after the date of birth and death records not be released until 75 years after the date of death.  

Proposed transfer of records

The Department proposes to adopt the Model Law as it applies to birth and death records: death records that are in the possession of the Department would be transferred to DORIS  75 years after death, and birth records in the possession of the Department would be transferred 125 years after birth.  Previously, these documents had been made public and released to DORIS at inconsistent intervals.  The earliest death records in the possession of the Department that have not been transferred to DORIS are from 1949 and would be made public beginning in 2024.  The earliest birth records in the possession of the Department that have not been transferred to DORIS are from 1910 and would be made public beginning in 2035.  The Department’s proposal is not intended to effect birth and death records already at DORIS, even if these records would not have been transferred had this proposed Health Code provision been in effect at the time of their transfer. 

Statutory Authority

Pursuant to section 556(c) of the Charter and section 17-166 of the NYC Administrative Code, the Department is responsible for supervising and controlling the registration of births and deaths that occur in the City of New York. Section 558(c) of the Charter requires the Board to include in the Health Code provisions related to maintaining a registry of births and deaths, as well as provisions related to changes or alterations of any birth or death certificate upon proof satisfactory to the Commissioner of Health and the manner in which these certificates may be issued and otherwise examined.  Administrative Code section 17-169 and Health Code sections 3.25 and 207.11 make birth and death records confidential and restrict access to these records beyond certain classes of specified people.  Section 17-170(b) of the Administrative Code authorizes the Board to determine when birth and death records are transferred to DORIS.  And finally, section 558(b) of the Charter specifically authorizes the Board to add to, alter, and amend the Health Code.

 

Subject: 

Proposed resolution to amend Article 207 (General Vital Statistics Provisions) of the New York City Health Code to establish a schedule for making birth and death records public and transferring them to the Department of Records and Information Services (“DORIS”)

Location: 
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Gotham Center
42-09 28th Street, 3rd Floor, Room 3-32
Queens, NY 11101
Contact: 

Svetlana Burdeynik, (347) 396-6078, resolutioncomments@health.nyc.gov

Download Copy of Proposed Rule (.pdf): 

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Adopted Rules Content: 

 

 

Statement of Basis and Purpose

 

Statutory Authority

 

These amendments to the New York City Health Code (“the Health Code”) are promulgated pursuant to Sections 558 and 1043 of the New York City Charter (“the Charter”).  Section 558(b) and (c) of the Charter empowers the Board of Health (“the Board”) to amend the Health Code and to include in the Health Code all matters to which the authority of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (“the Department”) extends. Section 1043 grants the Department rulemaking authority. 

 

Background and New Requirements

           

Currently all facilities in the City of New York that report 25 or more deaths per year, including hospitals, hospices, funeral homes and the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, must submit reports of death to the Department electronically.  This system of electronic death registration enables reporting of 94% of all deaths in New York City.  In order to increase the number of deaths reported electronically, the Department now requires that:

 

  1. All hospitals and hospices reporting ten or more deaths per year (reduced from 25) report them electronically;
  2. Skilled nursing facilities reporting ten or more deaths per year also submit reports of death electronically;
  3. All facilities that are not mandated to report deaths electronically, continue to do so once they begin reporting electronically;
  4. In addition, the Department eliminates the fee currently charged for both processing interim disposition permits and for correcting a final disposition as a result of an interim disposition.

 

The new requirements will increase the number of deaths reported electronically each year.  Furthermore, the elimination of fees charged for both filing interim disposition permits and correcting the final disposition as a result of an interim disposition will encourage filing of interim disposition permits.  Currently, charging these fees discourages funeral directors from filing interim disposition permits, which results in delayed reporting of deaths.

 

The amendments adopted below reflect changes to Article 207, section 207.13 of the Health Code approved for adoption on December 9, 2014 by the Board.                

 

The proposal is as follows:

 

“Shall” and “must” denote mandatory requirements and may be used interchangeably in the rules of this Department, unless otherwise specified or unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

 

 

Effective Date: 
Mon, 04/20/2015

Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments (View Public Comments Received:1)

Agency:
Comment By: 
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Proposed Rules Content: 

 

 

Statement of Basis and Purpose

 

 

Statutory Authority

 

            These amendments to the New York City Health Code (“the Health Code”) are promulgated pursuant to Sections 558 and 1043 of the New York City Charter (“the Charter”).  Section 558(b) and (c) of the Charter empowers the Board of Health (“the Board”) to amend the Health Code and to include in the Health Code all matters to which the authority of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (“the Department”) extends. Section 1043 grants the Department rulemaking authority. 

 

Background and New Requirements

           

            Currently all facilities in the City of New York that report 25 or more deaths per year, including hospitals, hospices, funeral homes and the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, must submit reports of death to the Department electronically.  This system of electronic death registration enables reporting of 94% of all deaths in New York City.  In order to increase the number of deaths reported electronically, the Department proposes:

 

  1. To require that all hospitals and hospices reporting ten or more deaths per year (reduced from 25) report them electronically;
  2. To require that skilled nursing facilities reporting ten or more deaths per year also submit reports of death electronically;
  3. To require that all facilities that voluntarily report deaths electronically continue to do so;
  4. To eliminate the fee currently charged for both processing interim disposition permits and for correcting a final disposition as a result of an interim disposition.

 

The new requirements will increase the number of deaths reported electronically each year.  Furthermore, the elimination of fees charged for both filing interim disposition permits and correcting the final disposition as a result of an interim disposition will encourage filing of interim disposition permits.  Currently, charging these fees discourages funeral directors from filing interim disposition permits, which results in delayed reporting of deaths.

 

At its meeting on December 9, 2014, the Board adopted a resolution that included amendments to Section 207.13 of Article 207 of the Health Code, which is also proposed to be amended below.  The amendments proposed below reflect Article 207 of the Health Code as it exists at the time this proposal was approved for publication, and do not yet reflect the changes approved for adoption on December 9, 2014.                     

 

 

 

 

Subject: 

Proposed resolution to amend Section 205.03 of Article 205 of the New York City Health Code to increase the number of users who are required to submit electronic death records, and Section 207.13 of Article 207 of the New York City Health Code to eliminate the fees charged for interim disposition permits and for correcting a final disposition as a result of an interim disposition.

Location: 
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Gotham Center
42-09 28th Street 8th Floor, Room 8-25
Queens, NY 11101-4132
Contact: 

Svetlana Burdeynik at (347) 396-6078 or resolutioncomments@health.nyc.gov

Download Copy of Proposed Rule (.pdf): 

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Adopted Rules Content: 

 

Statement of Basis and Purpose

 

 

Statutory Authority

 

These amendments to the New York City Health Code (the Health Code) are promulgated pursuant to §§558 and 1043 of the New York City Charter (the Charter).  Sections 558(b) and (c) of the Charter empower the Board of Health (the Board) to amend the Health Code and to include in the Health Code all matters to which the authority of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (the Department) extends. Section 1043 grants the Department rule-making authority. 

 

Background

 

In 1971, the Board of Health amended New York City Health Code Section 207.05 of Article 207 to allow the Department to file a new birth certificate for a person who had legally changed his or her name and who had undergone “convertive” surgery.  The Department has interpreted the requirement for convertive surgery in paragraph (a)(5) of Section 207.05 to mean genital surgery.  As a result, the Department has required transgender applicants who desire a new birth certificate with corrected gender to submit a surgical operative record including the date of the operation; a post-operative examination report signed by a physician attesting to the applicant’s surgical change of sex; and a post-operative psychiatric evaluation signed by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist.  Until December 2006, the Department issued new birth certificates listing the applicant’s new name, but omitting reference to any gender, to anyone who submitted acceptable documentation.  Since December 2006, when the Board of Health approved a change to the birth certificate form, the Department has provided new birth certificates that list not only an applicant’s new name but also the corrected sex designation.  Applicants are still required, however, to obtain a court ordered name change and undergo convertive surgery. 

 

This amendment eliminates the requirement that an individual must obtain a court ordered name change and undergo convertive surgery.

 

Other jurisdictions similarly have amended their laws to allow transgender people to obtain new birth certificates with corrected sex on birth certificates without having to undergo surgery.[1]  In May 2014, New York State Department of Health changed its procedures for correcting gender on birth certificates in the rest of the state (outside of New York City).  For people born in New York outside of New York City, the State Department of Health will now issue a new certificate to an applicant who submits a notarized affidavit from a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant licensed in the United States that either states that the applicant has undergone appropriate clinical treatment for a person diagnosed with gender dysphoria or transsexualism, or confirms that surgical procedures have been performed on the applicant to complete sex reassignment.

 

At the federal level, the U.S. Department of State in June 2010 announced a change in policy allowing the gender designation on passports to be changed for applicants producing certifications from attending internists, endocrinologists, gynecologists, urologists or psychiatrists stating that the provider has a doctor/patient relationship with the applicant and that the applicant has undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.  Likewise, as of September 2013, the Social Security Administration no longer requires proof of surgery in order to change the gender on Social Security (SSN) records.  The Social Security Administration now authorizes medical certifications of appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition from a licensed physician or doctor of osteopathy.

 

This trend reflects an understanding of the diverse expression of transgender identity, and that not all transgendered persons want surgery in order to express their gender identity.[2]  Indeed, in June 2014 the American Medical Association expressed its support for eliminating any requirement that an individual undergo surgery in order to change the sex indicated on a birth certificate.

 

The Board is amending Section 207.05 to authorize the Department to issue an applicant a new birth certificate with a changed gender marker without requiring such applicant to have undergone convertive surgery.  An affirmation from a physician licensed to practice in the United States, or an affidavit from a doctoral-level psychologist, master social worker, clinical social worker, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, marriage and family therapist, mental health counselor, or midwife, licensed to practice in the United States, is required in order to ensure the integrity of birth records when gender has been amended.  The Department recognizes it is critically important for individuals to have birth records that accurately reflect their gender for many purposes including obtaining access appropriate to care and facilities.  The rationale is as follows:  (1) birth certificates are foundational documents upon which all other official documents are based, including United States passports, driver licenses, and Social Security cards, are proof of United States citizenship, and should only be amended upon presentation and acceptance of the required documentation; (2) physicians and doctoral-level psychologists, along with master social workers, clinical social workers, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors, and midwives are licensed by issuing authorities in the United States, their credentials can be evaluated and validated, and they can be subject to professional sanctions, penalties and prosecution for providing false information; and (3) New York City, as an independent vital records jurisdiction, along with New York State and the other 55 vital records jurisdictions, works in close partnership with the federal government, and federal government agencies must rely on the integrity of birth records to accurately represent the facts of birth. Without birth record integrity, passports, driver licenses and other core identity documents would be questionable.  The integrity of the birth records will be maintained with this change while making it easier for transgender individuals to obtain birth records that accurately reflect their gender. 

 

Section 207.05 is also being amended to eliminate the requirement that applicants for new birth certificates with corrected gender also change their names.  The Department recognizes that some applicants may want to change their name on their birth certificate, and such applicants would still need to show that the new name was legally changed by a court order.  Some people transitioning from one gender to another, however, may want to continue using the same name.  These applicants should not be required to go to court and legally change their names in order to obtain new birth certificates.

 

Finally, the Board is amending Section 207.13 regarding fees to simply reflect the removal of the “convertive surgery” requirement and replace it with the language consistent with the changes to Section 207.05. 

 




[1] See, e.g., California (Cal. Health & Safety §103425), Iowa (Iowa Code §144.23(3)), and Vermont (Vt. Stat. §5112).

[2] See World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), “Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People”, 7th Version (2012) at www.wpath.org.

 

 

Effective Date: 
Mon, 01/12/2015

Adopted Rules: Closed to Comments

Adopted Rules Content: 

 

 

Statement of Basis and Purpose

 

These amendments to the New York City Health Code (the Health Code) are promulgated pursuant to sections 556, 558, and 1043 of the New York City Charter (the Charter).  Section 556 of the Charter grants the Department jurisdiction to supervise and control the registration of deaths.  Sections 558(b) and 558(c) of the Charter empower the Board of Health (the Board) to amend the Health Code and to include in the Health Code all matters to which the authority of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (the Department) extends. Section 558(c) of the Charter also empowers the Board of Health to provide for the examination and issuance of death certificates.  Section 1043 grants the Department rule-making authority.        

 

The amendments to sections 205.7, 207.11, and 207.13 of Articles 205 and 207 of the Health Code are intended to: (1) expand access to confidential medical reports of death for deaths that occurred prior to January 1, 2010; (2) clarify who may obtain a copy of a death certificate; and (3) expand access to fact-of-death information for specified benefit-paying parties, licensed doctors and attorneys, upon payment of a fee. 

 

The amendments amend Health Code section 205.07(a) to add siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren to the list of people who may access confidential medical reports of death.  Currently, section 205.07(a) allows the Department to release confidential medical reports of death for deaths occurring on or after January 1, 2010.  Because there is no reason to treat reports of deaths occurring earlier differently, the amendments also delete the reference to that date and would allow the Department to release any available confidential medical report of death to an entitled person.

 

Health Code section 207.11 currently allows “persons or their representatives, who are agents of, or who otherwise have a legal or fiduciary obligation to such persons, as a relative, person in control of disposition, heir or beneficiary…” to inspect death records.  The current language has led to confusion about who is entitled to a decedent’s death record.  The amendments to section 207.11 clarify the classes of people entitled to inspect a confidential medical report of death, and align that list with the amendments to section 205.07.

 

Finally, Health Code section 207.13(e) allows the Department to issue verifications of information contained in death certificates and other vital statistics certificates to other governmental agencies upon request.  The amendments to that section will expand access to benefit-paying parties such as annuity companies and pension plans to terminate benefits upon death of a recipient, physicians and hospitals who demonstrate that such information is needed to determine whether a patient they are treating has died, and licensed attorneys who demonstrate that the information is necessary to administer an estate.  Additionally, because the Department anticipates providing verifications through an electronic system maintained by The National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems, language has been added authorizing the Department to enact rules describing how the verifications will be provided.    

 

 

 

Effective Date: 
Mon, 01/12/2015

Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments (View Public Comments Received:7)

Agency:
Comment By: 
Monday, November 17, 2014
Proposed Rules Content: 

 

 

 

Statement of Basis and Purpose

 

In 1971, the Board of Health amended New York City Health Code Section 207.05 to allow the Department to file a new birth certificate for a person who had legally changed his or her name and who had undergone “convertive” surgery.  The Department has interpreted the requirement for convertive surgery in subsection (a)(5) of Section 207.05 to mean genital surgery.  As a result, the Department has required transgender applicants who desire a new birth certificate with corrected gender to submit a surgical operative record including the date of the operation; a post-operative examination report signed by a physician attesting to the applicant’s surgical change of sex; and a post-operative psychiatric evaluation signed by a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist.  Until December 2006, the Department issued new birth certificates listing the applicant’s new name, but omitting reference to any gender, to anyone who submitted acceptable documentation.  After December 2006, when the Board of Health approved a change to the birth certificate form, the Department has provided new birth certificates that list not only an applicant’s new name but also the corrected sex designation.  Applicants are still required, however, to obtain a court ordered name change and undergo convertive surgery.  This rule proposes to eliminate the requirement that an individual must obtain a court ordered name change and undergo convertive surgery.

 

Other jurisdictions similarly have amended their laws to allow transgender people to obtain new birth certificates with corrected sex on birth certificates without having to undergo surgery.[1]  In May 2014, New York State Department of Health changed its procedures for correcting gender on birth certificates in the rest of the state (outside of New York City).  For people born in New York outside of New York City, the State Department of Health will now issue a new certificate to an applicant who submits a notarized affidavit from a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant licensed in the United States that either states that the applicant has undergone appropriate clinical treatment for a person diagnosed with gender dysphoria or transsexualism, or confirms that surgical procedures have been performed on the applicant to complete sex reassignment.

 

At the federal level, the U.S. Department of State in June 2010 announced a change in policy allowing the gender designation on passports to be changed for applicants producing certifications from attending internists, endocrinologists, gynecologists, urologists or psychiatrists stating that the provider has a doctor/patient relationship with the applicant and that the applicant has undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.  Likewise, as of September 2013, the Social Security Administration no longer requires proof of surgery in order to change the gender on Social Security (SSN) records.  The Social Security Administration now authorizes medical certifications of appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition from a licensed physician or doctor of osteopathy.

 

This trend reflects an understanding of the diverse expression of transgender identity, and that not all transgendered persons want surgery in order to express their gender identity.[2]  Indeed, in June 2014 the American Medical Association expressed its support for eliminating any requirement that an individual undergo surgery in order to change the sex indicated on a birth certificate.

 

The Department proposes that the Board of Health amend Section 207.05 to authorize the Department to issue an applicant a new birth certificate with a changed gender marker without requiring such applicant to have undergone convertive surgery.  The Department proposes to require an affirmation from a physician licensed to practice in the United States, or an affidavit from a doctoral-level psychologist, clinical social worker, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, marriage and family therapist, mental health counselor, or midwife, licensed to practice in the United States, in order to ensure the integrity of birth records when gender has been amended.  The Department recognizes it is critically important for individuals to have birth records that accurately reflect their gender for many purposes including obtaining access appropriate to care and facilities.  The rationale is as follows:  (1) birth certificates are foundational documents upon which all other official documents are based, including United States passports, driver licenses, and Social Security cards, are proof of United States citizenship, and should only be amended upon presentation and acceptance of the required documentation; (2) physicians and doctoral-level psychologists, along with clinical social workers, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors, and midwives are licensed by issuing authorities in the United States, their credentials can be evaluated and validated, and they can be subject to professional sanctions, penalties and prosecution for providing false information; and (3) New York City, as an independent vital records jurisdiction, along with New York State and the other 55 vital records jurisdictions, works in close partnership with the federal government, and federal government agencies must rely on the integrity of birth records to accurately represent the facts of birth. Without birth record integrity, passports, driver licenses and other core identity documents would be questionable.  The integrity of the birth records will be maintained with this change while making it easier for transgender individuals to obtain birth records that accurately reflect their gender.  

 

The Department is also proposing that the Board of Health amend Section 207.05 to eliminate the requirement that applicants for new birth certificates with corrected gender also change their names.  The Department recognizes that some applicants may want to change their name on their birth certificate, and such applicants would still need to show that the new name was legally changed by a court order.  Some people transitioning from one gender to another, however, may want to continue using the same name.  These applicants should not be required to go to court and legally change their names in order to obtain new birth certificates.

 

Finally, the Department is requesting that the Board of Health amend Section 207.13 regarding fees to simply reflect the proposed removal of the “convertive surgery” requirement and replace it with the language consistent with the proposed changes to Section 207.05. 

 

The proposal is as follows:

 

“Shall” and “must” denote mandatory requirements and may be used interchangeably in the rules of this Department, unless otherwise specified or unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

 

 




[1] See, e.g., California (Cal. Health & Safety §103425), Iowa (Iowa Code §144.23(3)), and Vermont (Vt. Stat. §5112).

[2] See World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), “Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People”, 7th Version (2012) at www.wpath.org.

Subject: 

Proposed resolution to amend Article 207, section 207.05 of the New York City Health Code to remove convertive surgery requirement for transgender birth certificate applicants.

Location: 
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Gotham Center
42-09 28th Street, 3rd Floor, Room 3-32
Queens, NY 11101-4132
Contact: 

Svetlana Burdeynik at (347) 396-6078 or resolutioncomments@health.nyc.gov
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Gotham Center, 42-09 28th Street, CN 31
Long Island City, NY 11101-4132

Download Copy of Proposed Rule (.pdf): 

Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments

Agency:
Comment By: 
Friday, November 14, 2014
Proposed Rules Content: 

 

 

Statement of Basis and Purpose

 

These amendments to the New York City Health Code (the Health Code) are promulgated pursuant to sections 556, 558, and 1043 of the New York City Charter (the Charter).  Section 556 of the Charter grants the Department jurisdiction to supervise and control the registration of deaths.  Sections 558(b) and 558(c) of the Charter empower the Board of Health (the Board) to amend the Health Code and to include in the Health Code all matters to which the authority of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (the Department) extends. Section 558(c) of the Charter also empowers the Board of Health to provide for the examination and issuance of death certificates.  Section 1043 grants the Department rule-making authority.        

 

The proposed amendments to sections 205.7, 207.11, and 207.13 of Articles 205 and 207 of the Health Code are intended to: (1) expand access to confidential medical reports of death for deaths that occurred prior to January 1, 2010; (2) clarify who may obtain a copy of a death certificate; and (3) and expand access to fact-of-death information for specified benefit-paying parties, licensed doctors and attorneys, upon payment of a fee. 

 

The proposed amendments amend Health Code section 205.07(a) to add siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren to the list of people who may access confidential medical reports of death.  Currently, section 205.07(a) allows the Department to release confidential medical reports of death for deaths occurring on or after January 1, 2010.  Because there is no reason to treat reports of deaths occurring earlier differently, the proposed amendments also delete the reference to that date and would allow the Department to release any available confidential medical report of death to an entitled person.

 

 

Health Code section 207.11 currently allows “persons or their representatives, who are agents of, or who otherwise have a legal or fiduciary obligation to such persons, as a relative, person in control of disposition, heir or beneficiary…” to inspect death records.  The current language has led to confusion about who is entitled to a decedent’s death record.  Therefore, the Department proposes to clarify the classes of people entitled to inspect a confidential medical report of death, and align that list with the proposed amendments to section 205.07.

 

Finally, Health Code section 207.13(e) allows the Department to issue verifications of information contained in death certificates and other vital statistics certificates to other governmental agencies upon request.  The proposed amendments will expand access to benefit-paying parties such as annuity companies and pension plans to terminate benefits upon death of a recipient, physicians who demonstrate that such information is needed to determine whether a patient he or she is treating has died, and licensed attorneys who demonstrate that the information is necessary to administer an estate.  

 

The resolution is as follows:

 

“Shall” and “must” denote mandatory requirements and may be used interchangeably in the rules of this Department, unless otherwise specified or unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

 

 

Subject: 

Proposed resolution to amend Articles 205 and 207 of the New York City Health Code regarding records of death information.

Location: 
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Gotham Center
42-09 28th Street 14th Floor, Room 14-43
Queens, NY 11101-4132
Contact: 

Svetlana Burdeynik at (347) 396-6078 or resolutioncomments@health.nyc.gov
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Gotham Center, 42-09 28th Street, CN 31
Long Island City, NY 11101-4132

Download Copy of Proposed Rule (.pdf):