CHICAGO – A measure modernizing a more than half-century old law allowing persons born in the state to change the gender marker on their Illinois birth certificate has cleared an Illinois House Committee and is now on its way to the full House for a vote. The measure, House Bill 6073, is sponsored by Greg Harris, cleared the Human Services Committee by a vote of 8 to 6.
Illinois first began to allow persons to change the gender marker on a birth certificate as early as 1955. This modernization effort recognizes that people who are transgender should make their own decisions about whether surgery is necessary for their transition. It removes the obsolete surgery requirement currently necessary to change the gender marker, aligning Illinois law with a growing list of states and the federal government that allow the gender on birth certificates, passports, and other identification documents to be changed without surgery. Consistent with evolving science and medicine, the bill recognizes that surgery is not always required as part of a transition.
“We thank the majority of the Committee who carefully considered the views of Illinoisans who have for so long faced the dilemma of being denied a birth certificate that conforms with who they are unless they undergo surgery that they may not want or need. The scientific and medical community agrees that surgery is not necessary medical treatment for transgender people and shouldn’t be required to obtain an accurate birth certificate,” said John Knight, LGBT Project Director of the ACLU of Illinois. “There are myriad of reasons that someone may not want – or be able – to have surgery.”
“No one should be forced to have unnecessary surgery to have their birth certificate conform to their core identity and the gender in which they live their lives.”
The federal government and 12 other states have modernized rules allowing for the change of the gender marker on a passport or birth certificate without surgery. This emerging consensus recognizes the importance of these documents, which often are the “key” to many other important documents.
Moreover, when a birth certificate does not match who one is, it can lead to discrimination or harassment for a transgender person presenting inconsistent documents. Witnesses today told the Committee that modernized policies about changing gender markers are working at the federal and state level and can work here in Illinois.
“The best practice today is to allow someone to change their birth certificate without surgery,” added the ACLU’s Knight. “We hope the House acts quickly to send this bill to the Senate.”