Gender Markers for Birth Certificates

UPDATE 5/25/17: House Bill 1785 passed in the Illinois House 63-43-1. Follow its journey here.

trans_birth_cert_web_logoA measure to update the Vital Records Act would allow transgender and intersex people to change the gender marker on their birth certificate without proof of surgery.

The idea of forcing someone to have surgery in order to correct this fundamental document is outdated and inconsistent with contemporary science. Leading medical organizations urge the elimination of surgical requirements for transgender people, recommending the requirement to complete individualized medical treatment for gender transition – which may not include surgery – for correcting gender markers. Similarly, surgery is not always medically necessary for intersex individuals.

Surgery is something that is not available, necessary, or even medically advisable for every person who is transitioning or for intersex people. Our State law should recognize this reality. The federal government and several states no longer require surgery to change the gender on birth certificates, but require instead a declaration from a licensed medical or mental health professional that the individual has undergone clinically appropriate treatment.

Most importantly, by making it possible for transgender and intersex people to correct the gender on their birth certificate, this bill reduces the serious risks of discrimination, harassment, embarrassment, and assault that transgender and intersex people face when their core identification document – their birth certificate – fails to match their identity and appearance.

We have seen great shifts in public attitudes about and growing understanding of people who are transgender and intersex over the past few years. Now we need to make this important policy change.