PA drops surgery requirement for birth-certificate changes

PA drops surgery requirement for birth-certificate changes

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Under an updated state policy, trans folks born in Pennsylvania are now permitted to change the gender on their birth certificates without undergoing gender-confirmation surgery.

The updated policy went into effect Aug. 8, said Philadelphia-based trans attorney Julie Chovanes.

With valid identification, a $20 payment and a doctor's verification that the person is transitioning, trans people may now change the gender on their birth certificate without a court order.

The updated policy also permits trans youths to change the gender on their birth certificate, with parental consent.

In May, Chovanes filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of two trans people who wanted to change the gender on their birth certificate without undergoing gender-confirmation surgery.

The case was settled on Aug. 8, the same date that the updated state policy went into effect, Chovanes said.

"This settlement is another example of how the Wolf administration is trying to eradicate anti-LGBT discrimination," Chovanes said. "I'm grateful there was such a quick resolution of the federal lawsuit. I also wish to thank the plaintiffs, John Doe and Jane Doe, for being willing to seek justice. And of course, I must thank Equality PA and National Center for Transgender Equality. Their policy work helped bring this about."

The lawsuit had been assigned to U.S. District Judge John R. Padova. The plaintiffs alleged their constitutional rights were violated when denied accurate birth certificates.

"We're going to notify [Padova] as soon as possible about the settlement, and request that the case be dismissed," Chovanes said.

She noted that many trans people will benefit from the updated policy.

"Thousands of trans people born in the commonwealth will benefit from this new policy. I just hope people realize that trans folks are like everyone else. We deserve accurate birth certificates. I'm elated the Wolf administration did the right thing."

The state Department of Health issued this statement: "Gov. Wolf and his administration believe that all people throughout the commonwealth — regardless of sexual orientation, gender expression or identity — deserve to be treated equally under Pennsylvania law. The Department of Health updated its operational policy for individuals requesting a change to the sex listed on a Pennsylvania certification of birth to make clear that the commonwealth is inclusive and welcoming to all people." 


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