I like some good news on a Friday and this certainly qualifies.
Last month, the Washington DC Council passed the country's most liberal policy for updating birth certificates for transgender Americans — one that transgender activists hope becomes a national model—and Mayor Vincent Gray is expected to sign it next week.
This new measure eliminates the requirements for surgery and a court order that previously made it too expensive and inaccessible for most transgender people to complete a legal transition. Plus, even after surgery, the transgender person’s birth certificate wasn’t reissued, it was simply amended.
Kaprice Williams — who transitioned from male to female when she was fifteen — has been waiting four years for a new birth certificate. While this had not been much of an issue — Williams has yet to have gender reassignment surgery — a recent job interview went badly because Williams’ paperwork revealed she is transgender. Now, however, she can get that new birth certificate.
"I'm glad to finally get this so I can move on with the rest of my life. These are basic needs, and you can't do too much without proper credentials."— Kaprice Williams
Nationwide, only 24% of transgender people can have the gender changed on their birth certificates because of restrictive laws, and the lack of a correct birth certificate creates a myriad of problems when enrolling in schools or applying for jobs.
But this new policy — which passed unanimously — means people will now have their gender recognized, rather than having birth certificates, and other documents, saying you aren’t who you say you are. The new policy will grant new birth certificates to transgendered people who provide a statement from a licensed healthcare provider that they have undergone "appropriate treatment" for a gender transition; the measure also exempts them from a requirement to advertise a concurrent name change for three weeks in a local newspaper, effectively outing them.
Still, we have a long way to go in this country; of the 47 states that allow a gender change on birth certificates, only four have dropped the surgical transition standard and, of the rest, about half issue a new birth certificate and half simply amend the old one.
Next up is California; in 2011, the state reduced its standard for securing a court order to a physician's statement that the individual had received appropriate treatment, and now Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, a democrat from San Diego, is sponsoring a bill similar to Washington's.
"Transgender people are entitled to have their official documents and their legal name reflect their true identity without a burdensome and expensive process that endangers their personal safety."—Toni Atkins
It’s yet another step in the process for our transgender brothers and sisters as they fight for equality, and fight to be recognized for who they are, not what it says on a piece of paper.
via The LA Times