The Virginia 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 that aligns 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 a change of sex even if they have not had gender reassignment 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.
A similar process is required to obtain a passport after change of sex, according to the State Department. Once the paperwork is complete, it is submitted to the Virginia Department of Health's vital records department.
“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.
This is the third year that Boysko has introduced this bill. In 2018 Boysko introduced HB 407, and last year she introduced SB 1643. Neither bill made it out of subcommittee. Boysko said that it’s “really heartening” to see the legislation passed.
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.