Council will also vote to update and improve the city’s energy code

City Hall – Today the City Council will vote to amend the City’s policy on gender markers for birth certificates, making it easier for transgender individuals to change their specified gender. The Council will also vote to update and improve the City’s energy code.

Gender Markers

The New York City Health Code currently allows individuals to change the gender designation on their birth certificate only if they have undergone “convertive surgery.” This requirement is regarded as antiquated and effectively bars the vast majority of transgender New Yorkers, who do not have sex reassignment surgery, from amending their birth certificates. Birth certificates are “living” documents that are used to prove identity, age, and citizenship and are often the only form of ID that low-income New Yorkers have when applying for jobs or public benefits. Mismatched identification can lead to harassment, discrimination and sometimes accusations of fraud, and impedes access to health care and economic opportunity. This legislation will address these barriers by allowing transgender people to obtain documents that more accurately reflect their identity.

Introduction 491-A, sponsored by Council Member Johnson, would allow individuals to change the gender marker on their birth certificate by having a medical or mental health professional fill out an affidavit or affirmation attesting that the changed designation more accurately reflects the applicant’s sex or gender identity.

The list of licensed medical and mental health professionals who would be able to make these attestations is broad, ensuring meaningful and widespread access to this process. These professionals include physicians, doctoral level psychologists in clinical or counseling psychology, clinical social workers, master social workers, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, marriage and family therapists, mental health counselors or midwives.

Additionally, Introduction 492-A, also sponsored by Council Member Corey Johnson, would create an Advisory Board made up of transgender advocates and other experts who would examine the implementation and effectiveness of the new gender marker change requirement. It would also require the Advisory Board to issue a report concerning the requirement and recommendations for changes and/or improvements, if any.

Introduction 491-A takes effect 45 days from enactment, and Introduction 492-A would take effect immediately.

As part of this legislative process, the Council has been working closely with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the City’s Board of Health, which is voting tomorrow on a rule that mirrors Introduction 491-A.

“This bill will help affirm the basic human rights of transgender New Yorkers and will go a long way in addressing disparities faced by transgender individuals,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I thank Council Member Johnson for his leadership on this issue, and the de Blasio Administration for being a strong partner in this effort.”

“Having such a critical document that correctly reflects your gender identity is a basic human right that too many transgender people have been denied for far too long,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “These measures will transform the lives of transgender individuals in so many ways that other people take for granted—from accessing government benefits and health coverage, to getting a job and using appropriate facilities. I want to thank the advocates for their tireless work on this issue, and also Dr. Mary Bassett, Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, for helping to make New York City a more just place.”

Energy Code

Under State law, New York City is empowered to create its own energy code, provided that it is at least as strict as the State’s energy code. Int. No. 550-A, sponsored by Council Member Jumaane Williams, by request of the Mayor, would update the City’s energy code to reflect the State’s changes, and would make some amendments to accommodate the unique character of construction in New York City. Some examples of the City-specific amendments are:

• Under the State code, lighting within dwelling units is sometimes exempt from energy efficiency requirements. However, dwelling units make up a large portion of the City’s building stock and significantly impact greenhouse gas levels. Therefore, this bill narrows the State’s exemption to only those buildings where 75% of the lamps are high-efficacy lamps or where 75% of the lighting fixtures can accommodate only high-efficacy lamps.

• The State code allows buildings to install older equipment, such as air conditioners, manufactured before updated federal energy efficiency standards were imposed on manufacturers. Because equipment meeting the updated federal standards is much more environmentally friendly, this legislation requires that buildings in the City use equipment that meets the new federal standards.

• The State energy code doesn’t address submetering, but Local Law 88 of 2009 requires certain tenant spaces to be submetered beginning in 2025. Submetering allows tenants to track their energy usage and take steps to reduce that usage. This legislation would require submeters to be installed in newly constructed commercial (and large residential) buildings to facilitate compliance with the requirements of Local Law 88 and empower tenants to control their own energy usage.

• Several of the City-specific amendments deal with system commissioning, otherwise known as testing of building systems. This testing is necessary to ensure that once energy efficiency equipment is installed, it continues to work properly and provide the greatest possible energy savings. This legislation would expand the commission requirements in the State code by (i) applying them to renewable energy systems and water heating systems, (ii) removing a testing exception for systems that serve dwelling or sleeping units, and (iii) requiring that commissioning reports be filed with the Department of Buildings.

This legislation would take effect on January 1, 2015.

“In a city of almost one million buildings, New York consistently strives to serve as a paradigm of energy conservation innovation—increasing efficiency while decreasing the ultimate impact to the environment,” said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams. “The amendments proposed in this bill call for stringent energy conservation and optimization through processes such as commissioning, which, for every dollar spent towards the process, can yield a four dollar costs savings to the owner. When enacted, the code revisions in Int. 550a will yield an energy savings of almost 18.2% to building owners across the City, and will bring us one step closer to achieving the Mayor’s ‘One City, Built to Last’ goal.”