A bill making it easier for transgender individuals to correct the gender designation on their birth certificates won the approval of a committee at the Colorado Legislature Wednesday.
It’s the fifth try to pass the bill into law, but advocates hope this year will be different given that Democrats now control state government, after winning a majority in the state senate in November.
“For the past four years, Senate Republicans have killed our bill,” said Daniel Ramos of the LGBTQ advocacy organization One Colorado at a press conference prior to the hearing yesterday. “This year is different.”
State Rep. Brianna Titone (D-Arvada), who’s Colorado’s first transgender lawmaker, is sponsoring the bill after testifying on its behalf in previous years.
“We’ve waited a very long time to see this bill passed,” she said.
As it stands, changing gender designation on a birth certificate in the state of Colorado is a costly and time-consuming process that doesn’t prioritize the privacy of transgender individuals and places an unnecessary burden on a community that is already at risk.
Not having an accurate birth certificate can lead to transgender individuals being denied housing, employment, and even the right to vote.
For one, the state currently requires that transgender individuals obtain a court order saying they’ve had gender-affirming surgery.
“Requiring someone to prove their gender in a court of law fails to protect their privacy and can cause psychological trauma,” said UC Denver physician Dr. Rita Lee.
Lee also pointed out that some transgender individuals either don’t want gender-affirming surgery or can’t access the procedure.
“There are individuals who want surgery but cannot because of the lack of surgeons confident in performing the procedure, inadequate insurance coverage, cost, or health conditions that prohibit surgical intervention,” said Lee.
Under current law, transgender individuals must provide public notice when they change their names. This bill would do away with that provision, which advocates say is an infringement on the privacy of transgender people.
“This prevents the humiliation and potential violence of being outed,” said Titone.
The bill also would require the state to issue new birth certificates to transgender individuals, rather than just an amended one.
Ramos said this is a necessary provision because amended birth certificates reflect that a change was made, which could prompt questions and cause transgender individuals to have to involuntarily out themselves.
Opponents of the bill include state Rep. Mark Baisley (R- Roxborough Park), who, according to the Denver Post, said during the hearing that he viewed the birth certificate as the “more historical document,” whereas a driver’s license can be updated throughout one’s life.
The bill advanced past the House Health and Insurance Committee Wednesday on a party-line vote.