Anonymous v. Weiner

In Mtr. of Anonymous v. Weiner, 50 Misc. 2d 380, 270 N.Y.S.2d 319 (1966), a post-operative transsexual who had assumed the name and role of a female applied to the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the New York City Health Department for a new birth certificate. The Bureau requested guidance from the Board of Health, who, in turn, called on a committee on public health of the New York Academy of Medicine to investigate the issue and make recommendations. The group called on to assist included gynecologists, endocrinologists, cytogeneticists, psychiatrists, and a lawyer. The committee, after a detailed analysis and taking into account that at the time 10 states permitted such a change, concluded that male-to-female transsexuals are "still chromosomally males while ostensibly females." 50 Misc. 2d at 382. Further, it was concluded that "it is questionable whether laws and records such as the birth certificate should be changed and thereby used as a means to help psychologically ill persons in their social adaption." 50 Misc. 2d at 382. Therefore, the committee found that it was opposed to a change on birth certificates in transsexualism cases. The transsexual's application in Weiner was denied. In a resolution passed by the Board of Health, it was stated that "'an individual born one sex cannot be changed for the reasons proposed by the request which was made to us. Sex can be changed where there is an error, of course, but not when there is a later attempt to change psychological orientation of the patient and including such surgery as goes with it.'" 50 Misc. 2d at 383. In examining this issue, the New York appellate court looked at the New York City Health Code provisions. The code provided for a change in birth certificate only if the Commissioner of Public Health was satisfied that the evidence shows true facts and that an error was made at the time of preparing and filing of the certificate. 50 Misc. 2d at 383. The court found that based on the code provision, the Board did not act arbitrarily, capriciously, or in an otherwise illegal manner. The decision of the Board to deny the transsexual's request was affirmed. 50 Misc. 2d at 385. By upholding the Board, the court then, indirectly, adopted the Academy's position.