Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Federal court rules transgender individuals in N.C. can correct their birth certificates

Thursday marks a victory in North Carolina for individuals who identify as a gender they were not born with. A court ruled transgender people can correct their birth certificates, without requiring surgery.

Under the consent judgment, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and other state government officials must provide accurate birth certificates that reflect an applicant’s sex, consistent with their gender identity, without having to undergo surgery.

“This is a victory for all transgender people born in North Carolina that will help enable them to navigate life with safety and dignity,” Lambda Legal attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan said in a release.

A lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of North Carolina by Lambda Legal in 2021. The legal team sued on behalf of three plaintiffs: Lillith Campos, who is an adult, and two minor teenagers: C.B., through his parent Shelley K. Bunting; and M.D., through her parent Katheryn Jenifer. All three were born in North Carolina but unable to obtain a birth certificate that accurately reflects their identities due to the state’s discriminatory surgical requirement.

Gonzalez-Pagan said the lawsuit was the latest step in breaking down barriers for transgender people.

To correct a birth certificate, a transgender person born in North Carolina must submit a sworn statement, accompanied by a passport, a state-issued ID, such a driver’s license, or certification issued by a licensed healthcare professional, social worker or case manager – that confirms the person’s gender identity.

“I’m glad that my daughter will be able to correct and align all her documentation that will allow her to avoid discrimination or exclusion at school, college, sports, or government agencies,” Jenifer said in a press release. “No child or family should have to go through this trauma just because the government doesn’t want to recognize transgender people for who they are.”

According to a 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, one-third of transgender individuals showing documentation with a name or gender marker conflicting with their perceived gender were harassed, denied benefits and services, and even assaulted.

“I am happy that I will finally have an accurate birth certificate that reflects who I am,” 17-year-old plaintiff C.B. said in the release. “Now I don’t have to worry about an inaccurate birth certificate causing a difficult or unsafe situation for me in the future. It is great to know that North Carolina respects me and other trans people for who we are.”  

In addition to North Carolina, Lambda Legal has successfully challenged discrimination laws for transgender people in Idaho, Kansas, New York, Ohio and Puerto Rico. Lawsuits in Tennessee and Oklahoma are pending.

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