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Transgender people born in North Carolina can now change the gender stamp on their birth certificates without going through a medical transition. Consent ruling in federal lawsuit ruled Wednesday.

The lawsuit, filed last year by Lambda Legal, Baker Botts LLP and Brooks Pierce McLendon Humphrey & Leonard, challenged state restrictions on how North Carolina transgender people can change their gender markers.

Many transgender people are hesitant to undergo surgery or medical transition. They say the demands they make do not reflect the reality of trans people’s lives.

This week’s decision means that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, as well as other government officials and agencies, will have to provide birth certificates that reflect the applicant’s gender, according to their gender identity, without the need for any surgery.

“This is a win for all North Carolina-born transgender people to lead safe and dignified lives,” Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, counsel at Lambda Legal, said Thursday. “We are pleased with the agreement of North Carolina State officials to lift North Carolina’s policy that prevents so many transgender people born in North Carolina from having accurate birth certificates. This lawsuit is just the latest step in our nationwide fight to remove barriers preventing transgender people from accessing accurate identification documents.”

According to the decision, a transgender person born in North Carolina can change the gender designation on their birth certificate by submitting a sworn statement, along with a passport or driver’s license, or a certificate from a licensed healthcare professional, social worker, or curator proving their gender identity.

The lawsuit involved three plaintiffs who were born in North Carolina but were unable to change their markers to comply with the surgical requirement: Lilith Campos, an adult, and two minor teenagers: CB through parent Shelly K. Bunting; and M.D. through parent Katherine Jennifer.

“I am delighted that my daughter will be able to correct and align all of her paperwork so that she is not discriminated against or excluded from school, college, sports or government agencies,” Katherine Jenifer said in a statement. “No child or family should go through this trauma just because the government doesn’t want to recognize trans people for who they are.”

In her own statement, Campos called the surgical requirement “outrageous and inhuman”.

“We must all agree that everyone deserves accurate and accessible identification documents that allow us to move through life and carry out errands with security, dignity and respect,” Campos said. Now Carolina has to accept us for who we are.”

According to US Transgender Survey 2015, almost a third of transgender people who presented an identity document with a name or gender that contradicted their assumed gender were harassed, denied benefits or services, discriminated against, or assaulted. Transgender people are also disproportionately victims of hate crimes.

The decision is the second significant legal victory for transgender people this month.

Earlier this month, a federal judge in Winston-Salem ruled in favor of plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s exclusion of gender-verified health care for transgender public employees under the state health plan.

Policy Watch reported in detail on this lawsuit and related matters when the lawsuit was filed in 2019.

One of the plaintiffs, Julie McKeown, is an assistant professor at the College of Education at North Carolina State University.

In her win statement, she said it sent “a powerful message of acceptance to the entire transgender community in North Carolina.” McKeown said.

“After years of fighting for fair treatment, finally the court’s ruling that these healthcare exceptions are wrong pays off,” she said. “As public servants, all we want is equal access to health care, but we were denied only because we are transgender.”

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