A sign alerting customers about SNAP food stamps benefits is displayed at a Brooklyn grocery store in New York City in 2019.

New York to allow ‘X’ gender option for public assistance applicants

New Yorkers will soon be able to choose an “X” gender option when applying for food stamps, Medicaid and other public assistance, under a court settlement Wednesday.

The agreement settles a 2021 lawsuit against multiple government agencies that claimed the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s computer system compels nonbinary people to either lie under oath by declaring themselves as male or female or be denied benefits.

Under the settlement, the state’s public assistance and health agencies will make “X” gender markers available on applicable forms by Jan. 1. It will allow the New York City Human Resources Administration to offer “X” gender markers on forms before Jan. 1, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union, which bought the lawsuit on behalf of several plaintiffs.

“This is a major victory for the thousands of nonbinary New Yorkers who will be able to seek public benefits without being forced to lie about their identity or risk being misgendered,” NYCLU attorney Gabriella Larios said in a prepared statement.

That type of nonbinary gender option is already available on New York driver’s licenses and birth certificates.

A call seeking comment was made to the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. The agency said when the lawsuit was filed that a multimillion-dollar software upgrade would allow the additional gender option.

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