Friday, March 10, 2017

Birth Certificate Modernization Act moves forward

Posted By on Fri, Mar 10, 2017 at 2:41 PM

click to enlarge For many transgender people, an inaccurate birth certificate spells disaster. - LANE V. ERICKSON // SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Lane V. Erickson // Shutterstock
  • For many transgender people, an inaccurate birth certificate spells disaster.
LGBTQ rights in Colorado have jumped another small hurdle on a very long track, as the Birth Certificate Modernization Act has passed out of a House committee and will soon be voted on by the House as a whole.

This bill, HB17-1122, would ease requirements for changing gender on one’s birth certificate. Currently, the state requires that a court order indicating transitional surgery, and a court order indicating a legal name change, are required to change gender on a birth certificate. An outdated set of requirements, to be sure, and needlessly restrictive.

Many transgender people choose not to surgically transition, through reasons either personal or financial. And for these people, having an inaccurate birth certificate could result in being denied opportunities to jobs and housing. Considering transgender homelessness and unemployment rates are high across the country, it is vital we provide transgender and gender nonconforming people with as many opportunities as we can.

Under the new bill, all that would be required to change gender on one’s birth certificate is a written request (either from the person themselves or their parent/guardian if that person happens to be a minor) and a statement from a medical or mental health care provider stating that someone has undergone some kind of transitional treatment. There are more narrowly defined guidelines that you can read for yourself, but those broad strokes capture the idea.

The fact that this bill and the bill to ban conversion therapy (the destructive practice of attempting to alter someone’s sexuality or gender identity) have both passed out of committee suggest that there might be hope for them out on the floor.

However, since the House is still Republican-dominated, and it is rare (though not unheard of) for Republicans to vote favorably on LGBTQ issues, both these proposals may end up as they have in years previous, postponed until someone introduces them again at the start of the next legislative session.

For now, you can contact your representatives to share your thoughts on the Birth Certificate Modernization Act before it goes to vote.

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