Oregon Governor Signs Bill to Progress Transgender Rights

Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a bill into law last week that will make it easier for transgender Oregonians to make changes to their birth certificate.

HB 2673 will make the process of making changes to birth certificates more private, an important step towards decreasing housing, medical, and employment discrimination against transgender people in Oregon by judges, employers, landlords, and others with access to public records. The bill will allow individuals to change their name and gender on birth certificates and drivers’ licenses without providing proof of sexual reassignment surgery or obtaining a doctor’s note. Requiring applicants to fill out a form rather than go through the judicial system also makes the process less expensive, making legal recognition of one’s gender identity accessible to more people.

When the provisions of this law take effect in 2018, Oregon will become the second state—after California—to provide a more private and streamlined process for birth record changes. Commenting on the significance of the law, Governor Brown, the first out bisexual governor in the U.S. who is frequently recognized for her commitment to LGBTQ issues, stated, “Hate and discrimination have no place in our Oregon.”

Passage of the bill comes as the federal government and other state governments are rolling back civil rights for transgender Americans. In February, the Trump administration rescinded protections implemented under Obama that sought to allow transgender students access to whichever restroom corresponded with their gender identity as a condition of the education equity guaranteed under Title IX. As a result the Supreme Court in March sent back down to a lower court the case of 17-year-old transgender student Gavin Grimm, who was barred from using the boys’ restroom at his Virginia high school.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, 30 different states have introduced close to 130 anti-LGBTQ bills. But this Oregon bill and a law in Nevada banning conversion therapy for LGBTQ children suggests that the states stand largely divided on the civil rights enforcement.

Media Resources: Associated Press 5/31/17; Reuters 5/18/17; Human Rights Campaign 5/31/17; Feminist Majority Foundation 2/23/17, 3/6/17

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