Birth Certificate Change Refusals in Conflict With Law
[NEW YORK, NY] - On the heels of winning a birth certificate amendment for a female-to-male transgendered person in Virginia, Lambda Legal today released a first-of-its-kind chart identifying laws and policies in every state for amending sex designations on birth certificates. According to the chart, 47 states have specific laws, more general laws, or administrative processes allowing transgendered people to change the sex designation on their birth certificates, while three states have no laws or processes and have refused to amend birth certificates to reflect a change in sex.
"When states refuse to change birth certificates to reflect transgendered people's correct sex, they are almost always violating their own state laws or policies," said Michael Adams, Director of Education and Public Affairs at Lambda Legal. "Because birth certificates are so critical in everyday life -- for being able to get passports or drivers' licenses and for completing employment documents -- we've compiled this information to help transgendered people know their rights and fight for them."
According to Lambda Legal, many transgendered people are not granted the birth certificate changes they are entitled to by law. In one recent example, a Virginia man was denied a birth certificate amendment even though he had undergone extensive medical treatment and obtained a court order seeking to change his sex designation from female to male. Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office fought with state authorities to get an accurate birth certificate for the man, identified only as "John Doe" for privacy reasons, and was just days away from filing a lawsuit when the state's Attorney General backed down and followed state law. In the last couple of months, the man received his amended birth certificate. "We shouldn't have to fight for months to get states to follow their own laws, but that's often the reality," Adams said.
Transgendered people seeking to change their birth certificates should contact the Department of Health or Office of Vital Records in their state to find out what the process is, Adams said. Often, a court order is required to show that medical procedures have been completed. People should consult an attorney if the state resists changing the birth certificate or requires expensive and uncommon medical procedures (which was the case in Virginia, where the state initially refused to change the birth certificate because Lambda Legal's client hadn't undergone a full phalloplasty). People should also ask what the amended birth certificate will look like, since some states issue an entirely new one while other states amend the prior one, sometimes noticeably.
The chart and additional background on the Virginia case are online at www.LambdaLegal.org.
Background on the Virginia situation.
National map of state laws relating to changing birth certificates.
Detailed chart of state laws relating to changing birth certificates.
Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund
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