It may be easier for transgender people to change their gender on their birth certificates in Hawaii after the Aloha State passed a new bill, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Previously, Hawaii residents would have had to undergo gender reassignment surgery if they wanted to make a change to their documents. Now, the state House and Senate have approved a bill that doesn’t make the surgery a requirement. Instead, all they need is a note from their doctor, HPR-2, Hawaii Public Radio reported.
It’s a major step for the transgender community because some don’t want to have the surgery and others simply cannot afford it. The bill is now in the hands of Hawaii Gov. David Ige. If it passes, Hawaii will be the seventh state, including the District of Columbia, to make comparable changes to their laws governing birth certificates. Currently, California, Iowa, Oregon, New York, Vermont, Washington state and Washington, D.C., do not require evidence of medical surgery.
Attorney Rebecca Copeland, a transgender advocate with Equality Hawaii and a parent of a transgender teen, described the bill's significance. “It really does allow them to get what would really be basic necessities of life,” Copeland told HPR2. “It’s problematic for [transgender individuals] because their birth certificates have the sex designation marker that doesn’t match their gender identity. It’s not only hurtful and troublesome for them as they’re trying to navigate through life but it can also open them up to violence and, certainly, discrimination.”
The LGBT community was recently buoyed by the admission of Bruce Jenner, a former Olympic decathlete, that he was transitioning to womanhood. Though Jenner does not consider himself a spokesperson for the community, millions of people watched his interview with Diane Sawyer last month and heard about his journey from world-renowned athlete to reality star and now to transgender status.
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