In light of the Governor's signing of House Bill 1785, which will reform Illinois' Vital Records Act to allow transgender and intersex people to be able to change the gender marker on their birth certificates, the ACLU of Illinois' LGBT and HIV Project Director John Knight has released the following statement:

“Today, we Illinoisans celebrate a huge breakthrough in making our state a little better place for transgender people as well as their friends, family members and other allies. We’ve joined the ranks of the growing number of states and the District of Columbia that have eliminated their outmoded and unnecessary surgical requirement to correct the gender marker on your birth certificate. Doing so has made Illinois a better place for all of us, since every one of us benefits from living in a state that celebrates and protects its most vulnerable citizens.

It’s basic common sense that a person’s gender should be recognized and respected, whether or not that person has had any particular kind of surgery. Isn’t it equally obvious that the government should not be in the business of requiring people to have surgery that they may not want or need in order to secure a birth certificate that accurately reflects who they are? Because laws that require surgery for which many transgender people have no medical need in order to secure an accurate ID document and deny many transgender people accurate identity documents, leading medical organizations have urged the elimination of such surgical requirements, such as the one eliminated by HB 1785.

This important measure would not have become law without the signature of Governor Bruce Rauner and the support of legislative leaders, including State Representative Greg Harris and State Senator Toi Hutchinson, who guided the bill through the legislature. Most important to the process were the dozens of transgender and intersex people who have come forward to share their stories with legislators. These brave individuals have been willing to share deeply personal information about themselves in order to help break down barriers of misunderstanding that have fed discrimination against transgender and intersex individuals for way too many years. I’m extremely proud of our state for taking this important step to modernize a law that has been a significant barrier in transgender people’s lives for many, many years.”

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