A Cook County Judge has approved a court agreement that will allow transgender people to change their Illinois birth certificates without undergoing genital surgery. Judge Michael Hyman has approved the new rule, previously reported by Windy City Times in July: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Agreement-on-Illinois-birth-certificate-change-for-trans-people/38827.html.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois sued the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) on behalf of three trans people last year, after the three were told they would need to show proof of genital surgery in order to change the gender markers on their birth certificates.
IDPH released new rules on the policy and granted plaintiffs Lauren Grey, Victor Williams and Nicholas Guarino new birth certificates.
John Knight of the ACLU said the court order prevents IDPH from going back on its word. ACLU sued IDPH previously over the same issue but the settlement did not yield a change in practice.
"It is critical that our clients and others are able to get birth certificates that accurately reflect who they are without being required to undergo costly surgery that they may not want or need," said Knight in a statement. The State never should have involved itself in these private decisions about medical care."
The new policy, while not mandating genital surgery specifically, does require some form of transition-related surgery, a sticking point for many activists, who have advocated against a surgical mandate in the policy.
Many trans people cannot afford or do not want transition-related surgeries, a fact trans activists have argued throughout the case.
Knight said that while the final agreement is an important first step, ACLU will likely push for a better rule.
"I think we will look at a way to either persuade the legislature or go back to court at some point, asking that the surgical requirement be removed completely," Knight said.