Metro Weekly

Maryland transgender birth certificate bills pass second hurdle

Two versions of bill pass opposite legislative chamber, will head to Governor Hogan for final approval

Carrie Evans
Equality Maryland’s Carrie Evans

Maryland transgender and intersex residents are one step closer to being able to obtain new, unmarked versions of their birth certificates reflecting their correct gender, and in some cases, their corrected name, after the state Senate and House of Delegates passed the opposite house’s version of a bill previously approved by each chamber.

The bills in question, HB862, sponsored by Del. David Moon (D-Montgomery Co.) and SB 743, sponsored by Sen. Susan Lee (D-Montgomery Co.), would amend current practice in Maryland by eliminating the requirement that people seeking a gender change on their birth certificate undergo surgery before being allowed to move forward. Instead, the bills both allow a transgender person to obtain a note from a licensed medical practitioner stating that the person has undergone the appropriate treatment for gender dysphoria, which may include hormone therapy or other approved techniques in line with current medical understanding of transgender health care.

Moon’s bill passed the Senate 31-16 on Thursday, just a day after Lee’s bill passed the House of Delegates, 91-49. Initially, Moon’s bill had passed the House by a margin of 85-50, while Lee’s passed the Senate, 31-16. In either case, both chambers have enough votes to override a gubernatorial veto should Gov. Larry Hogan decide to stop the bills from going into effect. Hogan has not yet taken a public position on the bill, though fellow Republican Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) cited public safety and security concerns, as well as the potential for identity fraud, when he vetoed the Garden State’s version of a similar measure.

Locally, Hogan’s decision to sign Moon and Lee’s bills into law, or the decision of the General Assembly to override his veto, would place Maryland on the same plain as the District of Columbia, which previously approved a similar measure in 2013. That bill, named in honor of transgender stabbing victim Deoni Jones, survived a 30-day congressional review period and was cited by many local and national organizations as a “model” law that other jurisdictions could emulate.

Equality Maryland, the state’s largest LGBT rights organization, issued a statement in reaction to the bill’s passage.

“We are thankful that the General Assembly continues to show leadership on ensuring transgender Marylanders are treated equally under the law,” said Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland. “This bill will allow transgender individuals to update their birth certificates in accordance with their personal and unique treatment plans. This is a big step in recognizing the realities of trans lives and updating our laws to reflect those realities.”

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