Three transgender residents of Illinois are to have their birth certificates amended to reflect their gender identity in a show of good faith by the state as part of an ongoing lawsuit.
The American Civil Liberties Union took to the courts in May on behalf of three Illinois citizens, Lauren Grey, Victor Williams, and Nicholas Guarino, to sue the state over its refusal to amend birth certificates for trans people unless applicants underwent genital change surgery as certified by a United States-licensed physician. This is despite the fact that the three people in question had undergone other gender change procedures. This arbitrary standard, the ACLU argued before a Cook County Circuit Court judge, was imposed despite the state’s previous assurances that it would amend the policy.
Rather than filing a direct response, the state asked the judge to place a stay of action on this case, arguing that a new legislative rule to be acted on this fall would removed the requirement for genital change surgery.
Judge Michael Hay accepted the state’s request to stay action in the case but also said the state should, in advance of legislative action, issue amended birth certificates to Lauren Grey, Victor Williams, and Nicholas Guarino as a show of good faith. The state has said it will not challenge the order.
The ACLU has welcomed the fact that their clients will soon receive amended birth certificates — documents they have waited over five years to secure — but the ACLU also points out that no rule change has yet been made and so the larger problem may still persist.
“We are pleased for our clients,” said John Knight, Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Project at the ACLU of Illinois. Their new birth certificates will reflect who they are today, and avoid any potential embarrassment, harassment or possible harm.”
“At the same time, there has been no change in the rule as yet and even the proposed rule includes no clear assurance that the state will not continue to require transgender individuals to undergo unnecessary surgeries. The court’s ruling granting birth certificates applies only to our three clients,” added Knight. “We continue to believe that there must be a written agreement or court order — enforceable by law — preventing the state from continuing to require genital surgery before transgender individuals can obtain an accurate birth certificate.The state has given our clients assurance before that they would address this unconstitutional practice, only to return to it after some time passes. It is essential that we have an enforceable agreement to prevent that from happening again.”
A similar case has been filed in Alaska where the state’s arbitrary requirement of genital change surgery has meant a woman has been denied an amended driver’s license even when she has been able to change all her other personal identification documents including her pilot’s license. Click here for more information.
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