April 9, 2015 at 3:53 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Maryland birth certificate bill receives final approval

Maryland State House, gay news, Washington Blade

Maryland lawmakers this week gave their final approval to a bill that would make it easier for trans Marylanders to amend their birth certificates. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland lawmakers this week gave their final approval to a bill that would make it easier for transgender people to amend their birth certificates.

The Maryland House of Delegates on Wednesday by a 91-49 vote margin approved Senate Bill 743, a measure introduced by state Sen. Susan Lee (D-Montgomery County) that would allow trans Marylanders to change their name and gender on their birth certificates without having undergone sex reassignment surgery. The Maryland Senate on Thursday by a 31-16 vote margin granted final approval to a version of the bill that state Del. David Moon (D-Montgomery County) put forth.

The measure would also allow trans Marylanders to obtain a new birth certificate that does not indicate it was amended.

Lee told the Washington Blade on Thursday during a telephone interview she feels the bill’s “timing is very good” because it comes on the heels of the state’s trans rights law that took effect last October.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said the Montgomery County Democrat. “We want to make sure we live in a state where trans individuals feel free of discrimination and live like everyone else.”

Equality Maryland and the Human Rights Campaign are among the groups that urged lawmakers to support the measure.

“Today’s final passage of the bill that modernizes Maryland law to allow transgender individuals to update the gender marker on their Maryland birth certificates is an important step in honoring the realities of trans lives and the unique and personal transition process,” said Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans on Wednesday. “Instead of the current requirement of surgery, trans Marylanders will be able to obtain a new birth certificate when they and their health care practitioner determine the appropriate treatment has occurred.”

Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland, had previously expressed concerns the bill “medicalizes” trans and intersex people. She nevertheless told the Washington Blade on Wednesday that her group is “pleased the legislature has continued to act on improving the lives of the state’s trans community.”

Jenna Fischetti of the Maryland Coalition for Trans Equality told the Blade she also welcomes SB 743’s passage.

“SB 743 is about empowering transgender Marylanders,” she said. “It provides clarity and consistency to the issuance of amended birth certificates to those who have undergone a gender confirmation process.”

Neighboring D.C. and New York City are among the U.S. jurisdictions in which trans people can amend their birth certificates without having undergone sex reassignment surgery.

A spokesperson for Gov. Larry Hogan did not return the Blade’s request for comment on whether he plans to sign the bill into law, but it passed by a veto-proof margin.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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