D.C. Council Moves Toward New Birth Certificates for Transgender People

The D.C. Council is preparing to pass legislation that would make it easier for transgender people to obtain new birth certificates reflecting their change in sexual identity.

The new law would ease a costly and bureaucratic system now in effect.

“D.C.’s law as it currently exists makes it really hard for trans people to get their vital records in line with who they really are,” said Andy Bowen, an activist with the DC Trans Coalition who helps fight discrimination in housing and jobs.

The transgender community of about 500 people in D.C. faces tens of thousands of dollars in sex change operations and currently must advertise name changes in local publications for three weeks, Bowen said.

“It makes it a financial difficulty for trans people, many of whom are low income and unemployed, and it’s also just archaic and makes no sense," she said.

The D.C. Council Judiciary Committee voted to wipe away a lot of those restrictions on sex identity changes, approving a proposal that would require only a certified statement from a medical doctor and would eliminate the publicity and surgery requirements.

“I'm proud that we are doing this during pride week,” Councilmember Tommy Wells said. “It's a time when we recognize equality among all District residents.”

If passed, the new law also would issue a new birth certificate rather than simply amending the old one. Amended birth certificates are clear tipoffs for more discrimination.

“I live in D.C. because of that progressive past and that progressive legacy … and so this is just one more thing that makes D.C. an ideal place for transgender people and everybody to live.”

The full Council will get this bill in a few weeks. It's expected to pass easily.

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