New York state officials will soon allow residents to write a gender-neutral "X" on nearly all state forms beginning in 2023.
The change was approved in the state budget approved last weekend and comes after officials a year ago allowed "X" to be used for gender on state driver's licenses and identification cards.
The measure, along with new funding for anti-discrimination and anti-hate crimes programs, is meant to build on the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which sought to strengthen laws against discrimination in the workplace and housing.
Some state agencies, including the Department of Labor, Office of Children and Family Services, Office of Temporary Disability Assistance and Division of Criminal Justice Services, will have until 2024 to make the gender identity option of "X" available. If they cannot meet the deadline, a public report is required explaining the delay.
The provision was among several measures meant to aid the LGBTQ+ community in New York touted on Thursday by Gov. Kathy Hochul, who spoke at the LGBT Community Center 2022 Dinner.
"The past two years have been hard for us all, but especially hard for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers who have always been forced to deal with levels of isolation due to homophobia and transphobia," she said. "That's why it's so important that our newly enacted budget presses forward in the fight for equality with historic levels of state funding and initiatives for LGBTQ+ equity."
The budget includes $12.5 million for the state Division of Human Rights to strengthen anti-discrimination investigations and prosecution as well as education programs, a $3.7 million increase.
And the spending plan includes $25 million for grants directed to a program meant to combat hate crimes. Benefits for victims of hate crimes will also be expanded to up to $2,500 — up from $2,000 in previous years.
Lawmakers and Hochul have also boosted programs for direct health services, community and network providers and cultural competency training by $8 million to $13.5 million meant to aid transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary New Yorkers.