Bill allows gender change on birth certificate

RECOGNITION: Senators of the 34th Guam Legislature recognize LGBTQ Pride Month in June 2017. New legislation introduced by Sen. Fernando Esteves would allow transgender people a path to legal recognition of their chosen gender identity. Post file photo

A recently introduced bill would allow transgender individuals to legally change their gender marker on their birth certificate.

Bill 291-34 introduced by Sen. Fernando Esteves authorizes the Office of Vital Statistics, under the Department of Public Health and Social Services, to amend an individual's gender on their birth certificate to the one with which they identify.

A copy of a court order changing the legal sex of a person born on Guam is required. Aside from the court order and a written request, there are no surgical conditions required from the individual seeking to amend his or her birth certificate.

Under the legislation, a certified copy of the birth certificate issued to the individual shall not indicate the amendment and shall be issued at no additional cost.

The Office of Vital Statistics is mandated by law to register, certify and maintain records of vital events that occur on Guam, including births. Under current statutes, the office must "prescribe by regulation the conditions under which additions or minor corrections shall be made to birth certificates."

Under the measure, an individual may file a petition in court if they are at least 18 years old. The petition for change of legal sex should include the reason for the change and proposed legal sex, among other information. The petition should also include documentation from a certified psychologist, social worker, therapist or other licensed professional affirming that the applicant's request reflects their sex or gender identity.

Many states have adopted similar legislation authorizing individuals to change their gender marker on a birth certificate. Some states also require a surgical procedure to allow a change in the birth certificate.

Esteves: 'It is time'

According to Esteves, the bill would allow transgender individuals a path to legal recognition of their gender identity.

"It is time that transgender people in our community be given the dignity they deserve," Esteves said. "The first step to combating hate and discrimination is for the government to officially recognize the true gender people identify with."

Esteves concluded, "Transgender people have historically been harassed, discriminated against, and physically and sexually assaulted, which has contributed to higher rates of depression and suicide. The first step to correcting this is by giving them dignity and recognition."

DPHSS acting Director Leo Casil reserved comment until the department has reviewed the bill.

Recommended for you