New policy makes birth certificate changes for transgender Californians easier and safer

Changing your birth certificate has become easier and safer for transgender Californians thanks to the implementation of bill AB 1121. The bill, authored by Speaker Toni G. Atkins in 2013, ensures that transgender people are no longer required to publish an announcement of their name change in a local newspaper, and also will not have to go through the court system to request the birth certificate change.

As of January 2014, individuals seeking a name change on their birth certificate could directly contact the State Registrar to start the process, rather than have to schedule a court hearing and pay $435 for the change. Now, as of July, the discriminatory requirement of having to publish your name change in a newspaper, where anyone could have access to it, has ended. The process still requires verification from a physician, however, the state of California does not require proof of surgery for changes to the name and gender marker on birth certificates.

"A lot of our clients had major concerns about the safety issues of publishing the name change in the newspaper," said Danny Kirchoff from the Transgender Law Center, a co-sponsor of the bill along with Equality California. "And especially in recent years, a lot of publications have moved online and people's information about a person's old and new name would come up on Google search, and it's often really private information."

New York State recently approved a new policy allowing transgender people to update the name and gender marker on their birth certificates without proof of surgery. The policy now only requires an affidavit from a licensed healthcare provider indicating that the transgender individual has received clinical treatment.

Read the full story from KCET.