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District of Columbia

D.C. lawmaker proposes to ease gender change regulations

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
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WASHINGTON — A District of Columbia council member on Tuesday introduced a bill that would ease the requirements of transgender D.C. residents seeking to legally change their gender on birth certificates and other legal documents.

D.C. council member David A. Catania said the bill would protect the identities of individuals who undergo gender transitions, and would also apply to transgender people who transition without surgery.

David Catania

Under current D.C. law, people who have their names changed must publish notices in the newspaper once a week for three consecutive weeks. This regulation can inadvertently out transgender people who legally change their names and request new birth certificates with proper gender markers.

The proposed bill — the Birth Certificate Equality Amendment Act — would exempt transgender people from the public notice requirement. It would also allow transgender people to seal their original birth certificates from public view with an affidavit from a medical professional.

If approved, the Vital Records Division would be required to issue a new birth certificate, instead of marking an existing certificate as “amended.”

According to Catania, current D.C. law is outdated because not all transgender individuals undergo gender reassignment surgery, and because it requires a court order before a man can legally become a woman or vice-versa.

The bill — named after Deoni Jones, a transgender woman who was killed last February in Northeast D.C. — has six co-sponsors, meaning its passage is virtually assured when it comes up for a vote on the 13-member council later this year.

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