FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 12, 2009
Transgender Law Center
Equal ID Act Passes Key Assembly Committee
Bill Making Identification Change More Accessible for Transgender Persons Moves One Step Closer to Becoming State Law
Sacramento -- The Equal ID Act took one step closer to becoming law today when it passed the State Assembly Judiciary Committee by a 7-3 vote. The bill, sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) and introduced by Assemblymember Ted Lieu (D -- Torrance), increases the legal rights and recognition enjoyed by transgender people by clarifying that qualified transgender people born in California can return to the county of their birth to obtain a court order reflecting their correct gender and accompanying name change. The court order is then used to obtain a corrected California birth certificate.
"All Californians deserve legal documentation that accurately reflects who they are," EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors said. "Once passed, this law will make it easier for transgender people both in California and beyond to obtain accurate identification, apply for jobs, and live their lives as full and equal members of society."
Until recently, California law only allowed transgender persons to petition the court for an order recognizing a change of gender in the county in which they presently reside. Last month, the Transgender Law Center successfully challenged the residency requirement in the California Court of Appeals. In Somers v. Superior Court, the court held that the residency requirement violated the equal protection rights of California-born transgender people residing out of state. The Equal ID Act is the next step in ensuring that all Californians are able to obtain accurate birth certificates.
"The Equal ID Act would bring the Health and Safety Code up to date with case law," said Kristina Wertz, Legal Director of the Transgender Law Center. "It would alleviate any confusion and ensure that California-born people residing in other states know that they, too, can be afforded the dignity of a birth certificate that reflects who they truly are."
The new bill ensures that transgender people born in California know that they can return to the county of their birth to obtain a corrected birth certificate. It also provides greater access to transgender persons living in the state, allowing them for first time to petition the court in their home counties.
"The Equal ID Act would make it clear to others in my situation that they can go back to the counties in which they were born to get a court order changing their gender. It would save people all the trouble I went through finding attorneys and spending nearly four years in the courts," said Gigi Marie Somers, who testified at this morning's committee hearing. Ms. Somers, a transgender woman born in California, was unable to obtain a new birth certificate in the state of Kansas, where she now resides. Ms. Somers was the plaintiff in the legal action brought by the Transgender Law Center.
"The rights of Californians should not end at our state's borders," Assemblymember Leiu said. "The Equal ID Act makes certain every Californian has the freedom and liberty to be true to his or herself."
Birth certificates are used as primary source of identification and are often necessary to secure other forms of identification, including social security cards and passports.
Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender-rights advocacy organization in California. In the past decade, EQCA has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil-rights protections in the nation. EQCA has passed over 50 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org
The Transgender Law Center (TLC) is a civil rights organization advocating for transgender communities. TLC uses direct legal services, education, community organizing, and advocacy to transform California into a state that recognizes and supports the needs of transgender people and their families. www.transgenderlawcenter.org