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Transgender North Carolinians no longer need surgery for new birth certificates, court rules

Lambda Legal said a consent judgement in federal court ensures people can get the sex designation changed based on their gender identity.
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GREENSBORO, N.C. — LGBTQ advocacy group Lambda Legal says a recent consent ruling in federal court ensures transgender North Carolinians can now change their birth certificates to accurately align with their gender identity without undergoing gender affirmation surgery.

On Thursday, a consent ruling handed down by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina now means state government agencies will need to provide birth certificates that reflect the person's sex, consistent with gender identity. A transgender person can now ask for a correction on their birth certificate by submitting a sworn statement along with a passport, state-issued ID (like a driver's license), or certification issued by a licensed healthcare professional, social worker, or case manager. 

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Lambda Legal promised more information about when the new process takes effect.

“I’m pleased to see this day happening, that the State of North Carolina now must recognize us for who we are," said plaintiff Lillith Campos, a transgender woman. "It was outrageous and dehumanizing that I was denied a birth certificate just because I didn't have surgery.  We should all agree that everyone deserves accurate and accessible identity documents that allow us to go through life and run errands with safety, dignity and respect."

Lambda Legal cited the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey from the National Center for Transgender Equality, saying about one-third of transgender individuals who presented documents that weren't aligned with their perceived gender faced harassment, denial of services, discrimination, or assault.

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“I’m glad that my daughter will be able to correct and align all her documentation that will allow her to avoid discrimination or exclusion at school, college, sports, or government agencies. No child or family should have to go through this trauma just because the government doesn’t want to recognize transgender people for who they are,” said Katheryn Jenifer, mother of teenage plaintiff M.D.

Another transgender teen, identified as C.B. and represented through his parent Shelley K. Bunting, was also a plaintiff in the case. Lambda Legal said C.B., M.D., and Lillith all were born in North Carolina but were unable to get a birth certificate aligned with their identity because of the state's requirement for surgery prior to obtaining the document.

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Lambda Legal also said similar challenges in other states like Ohio, New York, and Kansas were successful, with challenges in Oklahoma and Tennessee still ongoing.

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