Right-Wingers in Illinois Flip Out Over Trans People Who Want Gender-Affirming Birth Certificates March 31, 2016

Right-Wingers in Illinois Flip Out Over Trans People Who Want Gender-Affirming Birth Certificates

Lawmakers in Illinois are advancing a bill that will make it easier for transgender people to live as their true selves. Naturally, conservatives are flipping out.

Reps. Greg Harris and Kelly Cassidy introduced HB 6073, a bill that will ease the process for trans people to change the gender marker on their birth certificate. Previously, changing a birth certificate required surgery, which is costly and not necessarily something every trans person wants; now, the change only requires confirmation from a medical professional that a trans person is undergoing appropriate treatment, which can differ from person to person. The bill also changes a reference from “sex change” to “change of sex designation.”

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Laurie Higgins, an infamous anti-LGBT-rights conservative with the Illinois Family Institute, wrote a blog post in which she expresses outrage over the bill, primarily that last part about language:

First, this change implicitly acknowledges the true fact that no one’s sex can change. Second, it demonstrates that birth certificates are being rendered meaningless. Birth certificates were intended as legal documents identifying objective birth facts. Gender-dysphoric men who were male at birth remain male. Gender-dysphoric women who were female at birth remain in perpetuity female. Gender-dysphoric men who were “designated” male at birth remain designated at birth male. Gender-dysphoric women who were “designated” female at birth remain designated at birth female. No amount or degree of legal or rhetorical chicanery can change what they were designated at birth.

The key word here is designated, if you couldn’t tell. It’s true that nobody can go back in time and change the moment when a doctor declared “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” based on glancing at a baby’s genitals. But the birth certificate doesn’t exist as a way to memorialize that moment in a baby’s life. It’s a binding document that guides people through life, demonstrating their identity in everything from enrolling in school to gaining employment and paying taxes. If a transgender person is going through life as a different gender than the one a doctor declared decades ago, they have every right for that document to reflect who they are.

Next, Higgins tries to take down the part about actually changing a birth certificate:

And what kinds of treatments, inquiring minds might be asking, are included in the “clinically appropriate” toolbox for gender-dysphoric individuals? Will a gender-dysphoric person be required to have had surgery to tamper with their private parts? Nope. Will he (I am using the moribund universal “he”) be required to have received or currently be receiving cross-sex hormone treatments? Nope. Will he be required to be receiving psychological counseling for his gender-dysphoria? Nope. All that will be legally required in order to receive a de facto falsified birth certificate is a “declaration” from a licensed mental health professional who states that this person has received some treatment deemed appropriate by contemporary standards established by the dominant mental health organizations that are drenched in “progressive” socio-political dogma. That’s a bar so low and bendy that even a toddler could scramble over it.

Is Laurie Higgins now the official healthcare provider for every transgender person in the state of Illinois? Is it up to her to determine what medical treatment is appropriate for transgender people to be recognized as their true gender? Unless she seeks the advice of strangers each time she goes to the doctor, fills a prescription, or takes a Tylenol, it’s not up to her to decide what counts as “medically appropriate.” It’s up to trans people and their doctors, just like every other person’s private medical business is theirs and theirs alone.

It’s all scare-quotes and misgendering from the IFI, as usual. What’s actually scary is that while most politicians aren’t falling for this rhetoric — South Dakota’s Gov. Dennis Daugaard, for example — a few still are. If it passes, HB 6073 will be an important moment of public affirmation for transgender people in Illinois. And even if there are still hurdles to jump in the fight for trans rights, the opinions expressed by Higgins and her ilk are undoubtedly shrinking into a pesky minority.

(Image via Shutterstock)


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