Transgender California Natives Can Change Birth Certificates

Native sons of the Golden State who have become daughters – and native daughters who have become sons – can now have their birth certificates changed to match their gender, regardless of where they currently live.

Until the recent First District Court of Appeals ruling, California law only allowed people to obtain a birth certificate with the proper gender if they lived in the same county of their birth, or if their current county of residence allowed them to request one.

However, many counties around the country will not recognize this right, an obstacle that this ruling now removes


4 responses to “Transgender California Natives Can Change Birth Certificates

  1. I don’t know how I really feel about this. I think that birth certificates reflect biological sex and not gender. And while the options should be expanded past M/F to include neuters, hermaphrodites, etc., original government records should not be altered. Notated maybe, but not altered.

    Also, I think that this would hurt trans people in the long term, historically. As a black lesbian, I can attest to the frustration of trying to put my life and experiences into context when there is very little documentation from past generations. What happens when trans people are looking for past models and their research is hindered because, when coming through the records, evidence of female born men or male born females is erased?

  2. First of all, if the younger trans generation wants role models we have the internet, books, gender groups and comunity to use. Why in the heck would you want us to keep our birth gender? That’s not who we are. That’s what the doctors and nurses put on paper when we came out and they saw our genitals as wee ones. That does not define who we are. If anything make the census add a box to put trans folk in the count – there is your history.

    • Jacob, I completely agree with you regarding the personal need for a birth certificate and other paperwork that offer privacy, protection, and a correct depiction of the person’s gender.

      However, I see the original poster’s point too.

      History isn’t only about “role models,” it’s about population figures and numbers.

      You can’t use self-selection (census and other surveys) as a way of accurately recording history. Why? Often people don’t answer these questions and even more often, they aren’t asked in a useful way, or at all.

      The lesbian and gay community has been demonstrably damaged by a lack of reliable population figures. I could probably think of dozens of examples. But one that stands out for me are figures about lesbians and gays parenting and foster-parenting. States that pass laws preventing lesbians and gays from adopting or foster-parenting have NO solid figures to understand how many children are potentially affected by these emotion- and church-driven decisions. Many of these lesbian and gay parents are simply listed somewhere (in court records or medical documents, etc.) as “single parents”. Likewise, there are many, many lesbian mothers who have children as the result of heterosexual relationships and are only listed anywhere meaningful as “single mothers”. And, in a 100 years, with no paper trail, another generation of historians will have no idea how impacting these laws were.

      (And no, there is no lavender box on the census either. I tried to make my own, but my census worker wouldn’t let me draw one in.)

      When we talk about civil rights issues – marriage, workplace laws, etc. – it’s important to know the size of the population we’re talking about, both now and in the future.

      I hope that somewhere there are trans activists, fighting not just for individual privacy in terms of records, but also for some sort of maintenance of public figures: for example, an annual state report on the number of applications for gender change of a birth certificate. That would protect individual privacy but also fill the need for some historical record, too. Another possibility would be sealed applications for a birth certificate change where the applicant could give permission for it to be unsealed at a point in time (100 years later, for example).

      • I only have a handful of time on this earth. It’s my right as a living creature to live it how I want. It’s a mission and a half to change all your records, I wish it was easier. You need to have people evaluate you and this and that and wait for them to say its o.k. to change. It’s a very raw experience and after all that hard work, someone saying they think trans people should have it only noted, I get a little frustrated. Maybe unsealing after a hundred years I would agree to.

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