California law ensuring respect for gender identity on death certificates takes effect in July

In July, a California law that will allow transgender people to have their gender identity listed on their death certificate will take effect, according to the California Report. The "Respect After Death Act" specifically requires individuals filling out a death certificate to record the decedent's gender identity, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth. The law was inspired by Christopher Lee, a filmmaker, artist, and transgender man who passed away in Oakland in 2012.

Lee was 48 years old and had a driver's license indicating his gender as male, but the coroner listed him by the name and gender he was assigned at birth, despite Lee's friends explaining that he was transgender. Two of those friends, Maya and Chino Scott-Chung, contacted then-assemblymember Toni Atkins of San Diego, Lee's hometown. Atkins drafted the "Respect After Death Act" that was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last September.

In addition to the law's requirements for those filling out a death certificate, it also stipulates that in the case of a dispute, a driver's license or passport belonging to the transgender person will settle it, rather than the opinion of blood-related relatives.

In an interview with the California Report, Chino Scott-Chung said, “Christopher lived his life in all ways as a man and he changed his driver’s license and passport to reflect this. Listing him as female on his death certificate is disrespectful to his memory and his legacy. It is deeply painful to me, to his chosen family, and to the community that he was so much a part of." Maya Scott-Chung said she plans to update Lee's death certificate when the law takes effect next month.

Read the full story from the California Report.