In a monumental move, the state Senate passed a bill to officially recognize a trans person's true gender. Now, the bill must pass in the House.
For trans folk, having a birth certificate that matches your gender is a crucial part of their identity. After all, cis folk wouldn't let someone misspell or misgender you on a government document, so why should the standard be any different for trans people? After serious deliberation, the state of Virginia decided it definitely shouldn't. Therefore, the Virginia Senate passed a bill allowing trans individuals to get new birth certificates with their correct gender, The Washington Times reports. Trans activists and those in the LGBTQ+ community have praised the move. Hopefully, this sets a new precedent for other states to follow suit as well.
The bill, Senate Bill 657, was passed earlier this week in the Virginia Senate. It allows a person who has transitioned between genders to have a new birth certificate issued in their name, a progressive move that has been heralded by the trans community. According to trans activists, this legislation will make it easier for individuals who have transitioned when it comes to matters of legal identification and documentation. As per the bill, any trans person would be able to register to receive a new birth certificate - even if they haven't had sex reassignment surgery. In many parts of the country (and across the world), surgery is crucial to receiving new government documentation. However, Virginia has gone against the grain, affirming the idea that both sex and gender are two separate but fluid social constructs.
In an interview, Democratic Senator Jennifer Boysko, stated, "I just think it’s important to try to make life easier for people without being discriminated (against) or bullied. Allowing an individual who is transgender to change their birth certificate without having to go through the full surgery allows them to live the life that they are due to have." For many trans folks, the process of filing for new documentation can be traumatic, resulting in lasting psychological impacts. Therefore, this revolutionary bill simplifies the process and makes it less dreadful for those who already experience discrimination. Now, trans folk will be able to complete simple tasks such as leasing apartments, opening bank accounts, or applying for jobs without worrying about their legal documents.
Instead of proving an individual has undergone sex reassignment surgery, the bill requires an individual to provide proof from a health care provider that they went through “clinically appropriate treatment for gender transition." This part of the legislation gives significant power to the medical provider, who is allowed to define the assessment and treatment. Treatment could include counseling, hormone therapy, sex reassignment surgery, or a patient-specific approach from the medical provider. This makes the bill flexible enough to suit the needs of all-trans folk. Once this proof is acquired, it must be submitted to the Virginia Department of Health's vital records department.
This is not the first time Senator Boysko has tried to pass such a bill. She has attempted to do so twice prior, to no avail. But according to her, this year, the bill has a better chance of becoming law. She stated, "I believe that we have a more open and accepting General Assembly then we’ve had in the past, where people are more comfortable working with the LGBTQ community and have expressed more of an interest in addressing some of these long-overdue changes." There is no doubt that this bill is of incredible importance to the trans community. It will now pass to the House, where it must pass with a majority in order to reach the Governor's desk and become a law.