Efforts by Democrats to allow transgender Coloradans an easier path to change their birth certificates went by the wayside Monday afternoon for the third year in a row.
But the measure’s Senate sponsor, Democratic Sen. Dominick Moreno of Commerce City, vowed he will bring back legislation every year until he gets the votes to pass it.
Monday, the Republican-majority Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, on a 3-2 party-line vote, dismissed a bill that would make the process for changing a birth certificate less intrusive.
Under current law, a transgender person who wants to change their birth certificate to reflect their gender identity must go through sex reassignment surgery and make that petition to a judge in open court. Transgender Coloradans and medical personnel say that the surgery isn’t always appropriate, especially for minors. It’s also expensive and for some people, just not an option. And some say asking a judge to order a change in the birth certificate is a violation of their privacy.
The bill would allow a transgender Coloradan to request the birth certificate change with the state registrar, which is under the Department of Public Health and Environment. The request would include a written statement from the person seeking the change or, if a minor, from a parent. It also must include a declaration from a medical professional that the person has either undergone surgery or other treatment for gender transition, or that the professional opinion is that the change is appropriate. The state registrar would then issue a new birth certificate rather than an amended one.
Testimony Monday ranged from the heartfelt to the bizarre. The Department of Public Health and Environment supports the bill, according to Michael Nicoletti, the department’s lobbyist. “We have no concerns about potential fraud,” he told the Senate’s State Affairs committee. What’s more worrying, he said, is that current law makes it more difficult for transgender Coloradans to use their birth certificates in obtaining housing, employment and health care.
Opponents claimed, without evidence, that if the bill passed, men would be allowed to go into women’s locker rooms, play on sports teams of the opposite sex and commit fraud. That included testimony from former U.S. Attorney Mike Norton, who now represents the Colorado Freedom Institute and Colorado Family Action, an affiliate of Focus on the Family; and testimony from the conservative American College of Pediatricians, which the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as a hate group.
The hearing also marked a return to the Capitol by Rosina Kovar, who testifies against LGBTQ legislation, often in graphic terms. On Monday, she claimed hormones that people take to change their gender, which she called dangerous, have become so prevalent in Boulder Creek that the fish are “intersex.”
But transgender Coloradans and their families dominated the testimony. Jack Teeter, a Democratic staffer, said he began his transition after coming to work at the Capitol in 2013. For anyone to suggest they would do this to play on a sports team is absurd, he said.
Jude Clinchard and her mom, Jenna, who testified last year, also spoke of Jude’s transition. She’s now 10, and Jude told the committee that her Social Security and passport documents now reflect her true gender, and asked the committee to change the law so all of her documents match. “It’s just not fair” that people should have to hide, she said.
But her pleas, and that of the other transgender Coloradans, failed to persuade the committee’s Republicans. Sen. Owen Hill of Colorado Springs called the birth certificate little more than a historical document. “I don’t see how it’s our task to change [the document] after the fact…a birth certificate reflects a past event.”
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