D.C. Council Unanimously Passes Birth-Certificate Bill

Bill aims to make it easier to amend name and gender on birth certificates

The D.C. Council unanimously approved a bill last week that makes it easier for transgender and intersex individuals to obtain new birth certificates reflecting their correct gender and name, while simplifying and streamlining the current process of amending such information.

The JaParker Deoni Jones Birth Certificate Equality Amendment Act of 2013, named after transgender woman Deoni Jones, who was killed while waiting at a Northeast D.C. bus stop last year, seeks to modernize the District’s laws to make it easier for transgender individuals to request new birth certificates reflecting their correct personal information. The bill was introduced by Councilmember David Catania (I-At large) and shepherded through the Committee on Health and the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety by Council Chairman Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), respectively.

The bill requires those seeking to obtain a new birth certificate to submit a written and signed request from the person in question and a signed statement from a licensed health care professional attesting that the applicant has received treatment appropriate for a gender transition. The bill also eliminates a requirement that individuals publish their names and gender change in a general publication newspaper for three consecutive weeks.

The two activists spearheading the effort to pass the bill, Andy Bowen of the DC Trans Coalition, and Lisa Mottet, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Transgender Civil Rights Project, say the procedures for obtaining a new birth certificate outlined in the bill mirror policies currently used by the State Department regarding gender reassignment.

The legislation also allows people born outside the District wanting to amend their name or gender to obtain a court order asking the original jurisdiction to issue a new birth certificate with the corrected information.

The June 26 vote, which Councilmember Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) called a ”great leap forward,” sets up the bill to be unanimously approved by the D.C. Council for the second time in early July, just before the scheduled summer recess. Once passed, Mayor Vincent Gray (D) is expected to sign it into law, meaning it will take effect after the mandatory 30-day congressional review period, sometime in the fall of 2013.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com