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IL Civil Rights Group Praises Proposed Changes to Birth Certificate Law

An Illinois civil rights group is praising state lawmakers for advancing a bill to make birth certificate changes easier for transgender people. (iStockphoto)
An Illinois civil rights group is praising state lawmakers for advancing a bill to make birth certificate changes easier for transgender people. (iStockphoto)
April 6, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A move to change Illinois' birth certificate law is earning praise from a civil rights watchdog. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, the change will help thousands of transgender residents in the state.

House Bill 6073, introduced by Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, passed out of committee on Monday. Supporters argue it would update the law by removing a requirement that transgender people must have surgery in order to change the gender marker on their birth certificate.

John Knight, director of the LGBT and HIV Project for the ACLU of Illinois, said transgender people often can face discrimination when they are "outed" against their will.

"A birth certificate is one document that can end up revealing someone's transgender status," he said. "We know that transgender people face overwhelming discrimination in so many aspects of their lives, including employment. This helps reduce that possibility."

Illinois hasn't updated its birth certificate gender marker law since 1962. HB 6073 would use the same standard as the federal government for changing gender markers on passports. The bill is headed to the full House for a vote.

Also on Monday, a separate bill aimed at regulating how transgender students use Illinois school restrooms was sent down by lawmakers to a subcommittee. Knight said he's hopeful that means House Bill 4474, introduced by Rep. Tom Morrison, R-Palatine, will not move forward during this session. Knight has argued that the bill is discriminatory because it would deny transgender students access to gender-appropriate restrooms and would run afoul of federal civil rights protections.

"Title IX protects against discrimination against transgender kids," he said, "and this effectively would put every school district in Illinois at risk of losing their federal dollars."

This comes just a few weeks after North Carolina passed a law overriding local protections for LGBT people. Recently, South Dakota's governor killed a similar bathroom regulation bill, although several other states are still considering like-minded legislation.

The text of HB 6073 is online here and HB 4474 is here.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - IL