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Judge Orders Illinois To Issue New Birth Certificates To Transgender Litigants

Birth Certificate

First Posted: 07/20/11 05:15 PM ET Updated: 09/19/11 06:12 AM ET

Following an order issued last week by a Cook County Circuit Judge, three transgender individuals will soon be granted new birth certificates reflecting their correct gender identity by the Division of Vital Records of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The judge's order is the result of a lawsuit filed earlier this year by the ACLU of Illinois on behalf of three transgender individuals -- Lauren Grey, Victor Williams and Nicholas Guarino -- who were initially denied a corrected birth certificate because of the state's policy of refusing such requests to individuals who have not undergone the specific genital surgeries from the IDPH requires from doctors licensed in the United States.

In 2009, the agency settled a similar lawsuit, also filed by the ACLU of Illinois, by issuing three transgender individuals correct birth certificates and pledging to revisit their policies on the issue, according to the Windy City Times.

But that did not happen, according to John Knight, director of the ACLU of Illinois's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Project, and many trans individuals have remained unable obtain accurate birth certificates without considering undergoing costly, sometimes dangerous procedures they may not otherwise want or need.

"The state has given our clients assurance before that they would address this unconstitutional practice, only to return to it after some time passes," Knight said in a statement.

For that reason, the ACLU is still pushing for either a written agreement or court order that would prevent the state from requiring genital surgeries before transgender individuals can receive an updated birth certificate. While the state legislature may take the issue up later this year, that remains an uncertainty.

"There has been no change in the rule as yet – and even the proposed rule includes no clear assurance that the state will not continue to require transgender individuals to undergo unnecessary surgeries. The court’s ruling granting birth certificates applies only to our three clients," Knight said. "It is essential that we have an enforceable agreement to prevent [this] from happening again."

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Filed by Joseph Erbentraut  |