LANSING, Mich. — An opinion issued last week by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel will allow transgender people to switch their gender identity on their birth certificate without undergoing gender reassignment surgery.
Previously, transgender people had to prove through a doctor’s affidavit that they had undergone the necessary procedures before making that switch.
“It was cause for celebration, big celebration,” said Amy Hunter, executive director of Out Front Kalamazoo, who is also transgender. “For me it was quite an emotional moment; it brought a tear to my eye.”
The opinion is effective immediately and takes a massive burden off the shoulders of the state’s transgender community, Hunter says.
“Trans people tend to have lower incomes, and gender confirmation surgery is expensive,” she added. “And to make it a requirement is an undue burden.”
“Think about all the folks that are straight and cis for example,” said Beau VanSolkema, a social worker who is transgender. “They get marriage documents, they change their name—it’s no different.”
VanSolkema says the rates of suicide among the transgender community are traditionally far higher than cisgender communities. He adds, just the ability to have a legal document with his true gender on it means the world.
“So that we’re not stigmatized so that folks like me aren’t committing suicide,” he said. “If you cut me open, I’m going to bleed red just as much as a straight cis person would.”
Hunter says, for now, they’re encouraging people to use the old form for birth certificate changes. It can be found on the Michigan Vital Records website.