I’m proud to provide legal services for transgender people in San Antonio and throughout Texas. In some respects, it’s the best time in our history to be transgender, as more and more people are becoming aware of transgender people. But as the recent bathroom bill controversy is showing us, there’s also a lot of misunderstanding about who transgender people are and what they’re not.
The GLAAD website provides a good working definition of what it means to be transgender. Here is their definition:
“An umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. People under the transgender umbrella may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms – including . Some of those terms are defined below. Use the descriptive term preferred by the individual. Many transgender people are prescribed hormones by their doctors to change their bodies. Some undergo surgery as well. But not all transgender people can or will take those steps, and a transgender identity is not dependent upon medical procedures.”
In Texas, there’s no law that requires gender markers for a change in one’s birth certificate. An individual can change the gender on his or her Texas birth certificate along with a written request and a court order. The application to change the birth certificate allows the applicant to request a change to any of the fields, including what’s labeled as “sex,” although the application notes that the “sex” category requires an “Affidavit by medical attendant or affidavit and one document,” and also specifically notes that a “Court Order [is] required if change is a result of gender reassignment surgery.”
Different judges will have different standards for issuing the court order. I advise clients to be as forthcoming with me as possible about their process, in order for me to best advocate on their behalf. I also advise clients going through this process to have a sealed affidavit of applicant. If it is a case in which there’s some sort of gender modification, I specifically will file a petition of amendment of birth certificate based on gender modification, telling the court that it should be changed and here’s why.
For many transgender people, the birth certificate change is an essential point in a journey to being recognized as the gender that he or she identifies as. It also can have real-world implications, such as whether a transgender person identifying as female can get women’s wellness exams as part of her health care.
The law will continue to evolve, or at least change, in Texas on transgender issues. It’s my job to stay on top of all the laws and to know when rights for transgender people are being expanded or taken away. But I also see it as my job to be an advocate for transgender people. In a world where there’s still far too much discrimination against transgender people, I want them – and everyone else for that matter – to know that I’m a lawyer proud to stand for and with transgender people.