Tag Archives: ID documents

Victory! It’s now MUCH easier to change your name and birth certificate in DC!

We’re tremendously excited to announce that today, the Deoni Jones Birth Certificate Amendment Act went into effect in DC. What does that mean for you? There is now a faster, cheaper, and more confidential process in place for you to change your name and for those born in DC to get a new birth certificate with the correct name and gender marker.

Our friends at the National Center for Transgender Equality summed up the changes nicely:

As of today individuals can request updated birth certificates directly from the DC Department of Health Vital Records Division. To request a new birth certificate, an applicant must submit a signed gender designation request form along with a form signed by their healthcare provider stating that the applicant has had treatment appropriate for that individual for gender transition. The Department of Health will issue a new birth certificate with the designated gender and updated name if applicable.

Along with birth certificate changes, the new law made much-needed updates to the legal name change process in DC. Applicants no longer have to publish their name change in the newspaper, an outdated and expensive process that was particularly burdensome for the transgender community. In order to get a legal name change, applicants go to the DC Superior Court and submit a petition for name change, notify creditors and other interested parties directly of the upcoming legal name change, and then return to the court for the judge to grant their name change. The name change order can then be used to update the name on a birth certificate, passport, social security card, driver’s license or state ID, or other document.

You can find helpful folks able to help you through the process for name change, gender marker change, or both, at TransLAW, Whitman Walker Health Legal Services, or Casa Ruby.

A big thanks to all the activists, lawmakers, and DC officials who helped make this a reality!

DCTC Recommends Priorities for District Government

Last week, newly-elected Mayor Gray’s Director of the Office of GLBT Affairs, Jeffrey Richardson, attended a DC Trans Coalition meeting. Members of DCTC educated the Director about the needs of trans communities in the District, and we were assured that trans people (along with youth and aging LGBT people) would be among the administration’s top concerns.

For the occasion, DCTC prepared a list of priorities for the Gray Administration, and shared this with the Director. We broke it down by agency and listed the most pressing and achievable goals for each. Among our list were:

  • End the Prostitution Free Zones and move toward decriminalizing sex work;
  • Nominate one or more trans people to serve on the Commission on Human Rights;
  • Enforce the gender-neutral bathroom provisions of the DC Human Rights Act;
  • Restore funding to vital trans-sensitive social services like HIPS and T.H.E.;
  • Develop plans to address unemployment in the trans community;
  • Expand the Dept. of Corrections and MPD trans policies to include other criminal justice agencies in the District;
  • Fund the DC Trans Needs Assessment

..and much more. You can read the comprehensive list here.

Trans Rights Seminar

Join us for an informative seminar for DC area lawyers and advocates encompassing ID change documentation procedures and Transgender 101!

Information will cover DC, MD, and VA jurisdictions. Speakers include lawyers and legal professionals.

Tuesday, November 16 @ 6:30-8:30 pm
University of the District of Columbia, Building 39, Room 208

Presented by the DC Trans Coalition and UDC OutLaw.

VICTORY: MVA Delays Implementation of Harmful License Policy

We just received this great piece of news from Equality Maryland. Thanks to all of the DCTC supporters and allies who helped make this possible, especially those who signed on to our letter to the Governor. When we stand together, we can win!

From Equality Maryland:

Dear Friends,

As you know, the Maryland Vehicle Administration (MVA) was looking at requiring an amended birth certificate in order for transgender individuals to update the gender marker on their driver’s license. It was scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2010. This would have required going through the court system. Additionally, a birth certificate change can only be done if the sex of an individual has been changed by surgical procedure.

After literally hundreds of calls and e-mails into the offices of the Governor and the Attorney General, we just received wonderful news – the proposed policy has been halted.

The Attorney General’s office shared the following statement from the MVA:

MVA believes that the current policy on gender designation which has been in practice for almost a decade is secure and the procedures we have adopted ensures reasonable accommodation for individuals who are making a gender transition change. At this time, MVA is not effecting a change to that policy. However, written legal advice received from the Office of Attorney General clearly states that MVA’s current policy does not meet all statutory requirements and we are therefore continuing to work with the Office of Attorney General before making a final determination on whether a policy update is appropriate.

The MVA intends to stick with current procedures; however, they continue to assert that the policy may not meet all statutory requirements. Equality Maryland and our partners will work to convene relevant stakeholders to either secure a change in the statutory requirements or assess possible policy revisions. We have already scheduled a strategy meeting in the New Year.

Having a legal identity document that does not match a person’s gender exposes them to potential risk not just of embarrassment, but of harassment as well. We are pleased that the MVA was willing to halt the implementation of this dangerous policy change in order to allow for constructive dialogue. There is still work to do, but for now let’s take a moment to celebrate.

All the best to you and yours this holiday season,

Morgan Meneses-Sheets
Executive Director
Equality Maryland

P.S. Support our efforts to protect the rights of transgender Marylanders! We are on the front lines with you everyday working to update and enhance the protections that exist for transgender Marylanders and avoid rollbacks like the proposed policy. Help us keep up the fight by visiting http://equalitymaryland.org/donate/supporteqmd.htm today and making a donation!

DCTC & Allies Urge Maryland to Drop Proposed Changes to ID Policy

DCTC sent a letter today to the Governor and Attorney General of Maryland, asking them to stop the proposed changes we wrote about earlier to the MVA’s policy on changing the gender marker on state-issued ID’s. For more background, a summary of the current policy and proposed changes, and DCTC’s recommendations on how to proceed, you can read our letter by clicking here. Thanks to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Whitman Walker Clinic, Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, Maine Transgender Network, National Coalition for LGBT Health, the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance and all of our individual members who co-signed the letter on such short notice! This is a hugely important issue, and we’ll keep everyone in the loop as updates come through.

Here is an excerpt from the letter:

While each group has various reasons for concern, our common objection can be summarized as follows; transgender, transsexual and gender non-conforming (hereafter “trans”) Marylanders deserve identity documents that most accurately reflect the way they live their lives, and should not be forced to pay for expensive surgeries they may not desire nor need along with unnecessary legal fees in order to obtain accurate identification documents. Trans individuals already face tremendous challenges when accessing services and obtaining employment. Having to carry ID documents that do not match a person’s presentation or identity can place them at increased chances of discrimination, harassment and even physical violence. For the sake of trans Marylanders’ safety, we urge you to do what you can to help stop this dangerous and unnecessary policy change from being implemented.

URGENT! MVA Threatens to Change Policy on Gender Markers

We just got wind of this really upsetting turn of events from our friends just across the border at Equality Maryland. Join with us to tell the Maryland Vehicle Administration that trans Marylanders deserve identity documents that most accurately reflect the way they live their lives, and should not be forced to pay for expensive surgeries they may not even need in order to get it. For the sake of our community’s safety, please do what you can to help us fight this change!
-DC Trans Coalition

From Equality Maryland:

The Maryland Vehicle Administration (MVA) is currently considering an update to their policy regarding changing the gender marker on a driver’s license effective January 1, 2010.Current Policy: To change the gender marker, an applicant must provide a physician or psychologist’s report to confirm that the applicant is in active treatment. The MVA requires annual re-evaluations until the applicant “meets requirements for permanent gender change.” If you are using a name other than your birth name, you must bring the document that initiated the change of name, such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree or court name change order and your current License.

New Policy: The new policy would require an amended birth certificate. This requires going through the court system. Maryland code states that they will issue a birth certificate reflecting the proper gender only upon receipt of a certified copy of an order of from a court indicating that the sex of an individual born has been changed by surgical procedure and whether such individual’s name has been changed. You cannot change the sex on a birth certificate simply by providing proof that you are undergoing medical treatment or procedures for gender reassignment.

The MVA has authority under the Maryland Transportation Code to issue corrected driver’s licenses and to establish the rules and regulations for such issuances, however they should do so with an eye to the fact that the current policy is already working and with respect for the transgender community!

This new policy creates additional hoops and legal fees for transgender Marylanders who are looking to update their driver’s license. Having a legal identity document that does not match a person’s gender exposes them to potential risk not just of embarrassment, but of harassment as well.

A similar change was considered in the past. Due to the fact that the MVA was unable to demonstrate any reasoning behind the change it was halted. There is still no evidence of the need for a policy change, nor is there any requirement in state or federal law to do so.

Equality Maryland has been working hard in coalition with several of our partners to resolve this matter, but at this point the MVA is prepared to move forward with this very backward and potentially dangerous policy change in the New Year.

The policy that we have in place is similar to the requirements in other states. It is working. It balances the need of the state to provide appropriate protocols with respect for the individual. A policy update that is made without any real need that has such a terrible impact on a community does not seem like a very logical decision or a fair course of action by a government agency.

Learn more by visiting http://www.equalitymaryland.org/issues/transgender/transgender.htm.

What can I do?

  • Stand up with us! Contact Governor O’Malley’s office and ask them to halt the implementation of this short sighted and dangerous policy change. Visit http://eqfed.org/campaign/mva to take action.
  • Support our efforts to protect the rights of transgender Marylanders! We are on the front lines with you everyday working to update and enhance the protections that exist for transgender Marylanders and avoid rollbacks like this one. Donate to Equality Maryland and help us keep up the fight! Visit http://equalitymaryland.org/donate/supporteqmd.htm to learn about the many ways you can support EQMD.

Please, take action today!

Our Statement for the 2009 Trans Day of Remembrance

Please distribute this widely! Available online at http://www.dctranscoalition.org.


For Immediate Release
November 8, 2009
Contact: Sadie Ryanne Baker
(202) 557-1951

The DC Trans Coalition Commemorates the 2009 Trans Day of Remembrance

Washington, DC – In recent months, a lot of us in DC were deeply affected by the murder of Ty’lia Mack, a trans woman who was stabbed along with a friend only a few blocks from the offices of Transgender Health Empowerment, Inc. Many of us at the DC Trans Coalition are survivors of violence ourselves, or are close to someone who is. We now approach the annual Trans Day of Remembrance, a time of emotional ceremonies when we come together with our friends and allies to remember the hundreds of fallen transsexual, transgender and gender nonconforming people all across the world.

Our communities are faced with violence all of the time – and it is not only the kind that comes from bigots who follow us on the street. It can also come from the threat of homelessness and job loss, disproportional rates of poverty and HIV infection, bullying in schools, or denial of access to health care or public facilities like restrooms.

To help curb this violence, sometimes we rely on police and laws like the Human Rights Act here in DC. Calling the police can be important if we are in the kinds of unsafe situations that are all-too-familiar for many trans/GNC people. However, involving the police is not a viable option for many people in our communities. A lack of consistent identity documents, fear of prejudiced and hateful officers and other factors can create complicated problems when interacting with police. Thankfully, in DC we have fought for policies to reduce these problems. We strongly encourage anyone who lives in, works in or visits DC to become familiar with these rights and what to do if they are violated. But even with these strong protections on paper, police harassment on the street and the threat of being arrested and sent to jail remains a constant problem for many.

As the city cuts the budgets of social service programs like THE that help the most vulnerable, and the police enact “tough on crime” policies like the Prostitution Free Zones that result in massive arrest rates for those of us who live in the most precarious economic situations, we need to look at the institutional problems that create and fuel all this violence against us. Trans/GNC people are not only made targets of violence because of blatantly transphobic prejudice. For example, we must also deal with racism, the criminalization of sex workers and the collapsing economy. We need to address all of the complex reasons why so many people in our communities are poor, on the street or constantly going through the jail in order to understand why so many trans/GNC people end up victims or survivors of violence.

Recently, the Obama Administration signed the trans-inclusive Matthew Shepard/James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law. Within DCTC, we have a diverse range of opinions on hate crimes legislation, but we agree that it is important to acknowledge the limitations and flaws of the criminal justice system as it is. As folks who have worked hard to reduce problems for trans/GNC people with police and in jail, we know jails themselves can be dangerous places for trans/GNC people. They also fuel vast racial and class inequalities. (In DC,for example, only 2% of our jail population is white.) So while it is exciting to see elected officials taking action to address the very real problem of hate violence targeting trans/GNC people, we hope that more people begin to have productive dialogs and think critically about strategies to address and prevent violence within our communities.

Relying on harsher penalties for bias-motivated crimes alone cannot keep us safe. While recognizing that sometimes we need to use them for our safety, we need to think about ways to decrease our societies’ over-reliance on police and jails as the only solution. This over-reliance on incarceration disproportionately harms marginalized communities like trans/GNC people. Even as DCTC works hard to make sure we enforce policies that will keep people as safe as possible on the streets and in jail, we also want to find solutions that keep people from going to jail in the first place. We hope that someday we might live in a world where we are put in unsafe situations less to begin with. That’s why, for example, we also have fought to make sure that trans/GNC folks can obtain legal documents that reflect the way we live, to make sure homeless shelters place trans/GNC people where they want to be, or to keep funding for vital social services.

The week leading up to TDOR has been declared the Trans Week of Awareness by some of our allies in Massachusetts. While we need to commemorate our dead, remembering the fallen is not enough to bring change toward a safer world. We also need to focus on preventing violence by educating those around us, to make them aware that trans/GNC people are their friends, partners, family, co-workers and community members and that we deserve rights and protection just like they do. We at DCTC join with others to mark this Week of Awareness, and ask everyone to spread the word about the need to end transphobia and work toward gender self-determination.

If you are in DC, we invite you to join Transgender Health Empowerment and other groups at 6:30 PM on Friday, November the 20th at the Metropolitan Community Church (474 Ridge St. NW) for the annual Day of Remembrance ceremony. This year, let’s mourn our losses, but also celebrate our victories, our shared commitment to social justice and to building a world in which all forms of violence are things of the past. In the meantime, we would like to commemorate the strong communities we’ve built to support one another through hard times, and we invite all who are interested to join us in organizing for a safer DC, or wherever you find yourselves this Day of Remembrance.

The DC Trans Coalition (DCTC) is a grassroots community-based organization dedicated to fighting for the human rights, dignity and equal access for transgender, transsexual and gender non-conforming people in the District of Columbia.