On Monday, a lawsuit was filed against the state of New York and several of its social service and welfare agencies, claiming that those with online applications that do not have an option to mark “X” for gender are discriminating against so-called “non-binary” people, according to the New York Post.
The lawsuit was filed by a group of New Yorkers who identify as “non-binary,” which means they suffer from a mental illness that has them believing they are neither male or female, and also incorrectly believe that there are more than two genders. The suit particularly targets the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), which the plaintiffs claim has an “outdated” online application system which, allegedly, forces such “non-binary” applications to “lie under oath” by selecting a gender with which they don’t identify.
One of the plaintiffs said that they were “forced to choose between M or F, male or female, as a gender marker, which neither really align with how I express myself or feel inside,” and described the incident as “particularly traumatic, especially during such a vulnerable time,” in reference to the coronavirus pandemic even though the two matters are not connected in any way. The plaintiff said that they selected “M” on the application, but later said that the option “just doesn’t feel as authentic to me as X.”
In addition to the OTDA, the lawsuit also targets New York state’s health department and the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.). Aside from the statewide agencies, the suit also names New York City’s Department of Social Services (DSS).
A spokesperson for OTDA said that the gender selection in the application is only used for the agency’s internal record, and will not be reflected in public information, while also claiming that an update to the computer system will ultimately include the demanded change. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for New York City’s DSS claimed that they had repeatedly advocated for such a change at the citywide level, but that such a change could only be approved by the state government.