Oregon Just Took A Big Step To Protect Transgender Rights

Photo: Courtesy of torbakhopper Flickr.
On Wednesday, Oregon governor Kate Brown signed a bill that will make it easier for transgender Oregonians to update their birth certificates privately. The Associated Press reports that the measure, which goes into effect next year, effectively allows an easier pathway for people to shield any changes they make to their birth certificates.
Previously, the process to make changes to one's birth certificate was conducted through the court system, without much privacy for individuals. The new law, however, makes it so that changes to someone's name or gender identity have to be protected instead of being available for public view by the court. It also allows for court cases that involve gender identity changes on birth records to be sealed.
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In signing the bill, Oregon has become the second state after California to adopt laws that specifically help to prevent discrimination against trans individuals. It may seem like a minor tweak, but the bill helps to prevent discrimination from employers, landlords, or anyone else who might be able to dig up public records.
Stacey Rice, executive co-director of Q Center, a Portland community support center for LGBTQ individuals, told the AP that the bill could have a huge impact on trans individuals. Rice, a transgender woman, still hadn't been able to update her birth certificate since she hadn't undergone gender confirmation surgery, however, she was able to change her driver's license thanks to a kind DMV employee.
"I was going to have a driver's license that has my female face on it, my female name, but it's still going to say 'M' and let's say I get pulled over for some reason and maybe a police officer looks at it and says 'what's going on here?' that was terrifying," Rice told the AP.
"Individualism is at the heart of Oregon values," Gov. Brown said at the signing, according to OPB. "As a fundamental human right, government has no business dictating personal identity."
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