By Rodney Robinson
Capital News Service
RICHMOND, Va. -- The state legislature recently passed a bill that will allow transgender individuals to receive a new birth certificate, something advocates said will help transgender people acquire documentation in alignment with their identity.
Senate Bill 657, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Fairfax, will allow a person to receive a new birth certificate to reflect the change of sex without the requirement of surgery. The individual seeking a new birth certificate also may list a new name if they provide a certified copy of a court order of the name change.
The bill requires proof from a health care provider that the individual went through “clinically appropriate treatment for gender transition.” The assessment and treatment, according to Boysko’s office, is up to the medical provider. There is not a standard approach for an individual's transition. Treatment could include counseling, hormone therapy, sex reassignment surgery or a patient-specific approach from the medical provider.
“Having your documentation accurately reflect your identity and match your other documentation is huge for transgender people,” Ted Lewis, executive director of Side by Side, said in email.
Side by Side is an advocacy group whose primary work involves creating supportive communities for LGBTQ youth. Lewis believes that this bill removes the “unnecessary and costly requirement of surgery,” and it would allow transgender people “to have documentation of who they are.”
Boysko said her constituents have reported issues when they need to show legal documents when leasing apartments, opening a bank account or applying for jobs.
“This bill removes an unnecessary hurdle for transgender people,” Lewis said.
“It’s going to make a difference for folks, and I’m really happy about that,” Boysko said.
By law an individual can only receive a birth certificate from the state where they were born. An amended version of Boysko’s bill allows a person residing in Virginia to apply for the new document, but if it is approved by a judge, they still have to file for the new certificate from their home state. “Virginia doesn’t give you a birth certificate, you take the information from the courts here in Virginia and take that back to the place where you were born to get the new birth certificate,” Boysko said.
Lawmakers also recently passed Boysko’s bill requiring the Department of Education to develop policies concerning the treatment of transgender students in public elementary and secondary schools.
Senate Bill 657 now goes to the Governor’s desk for approval.
Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.