Dear Sir or Madam,
I would earnestly urge you to support the change of policy requested in this petition. I am a transgender person born in Virginia, but currently living in Ireland where a very progressive piece of legislation has recently come into force and which makes life far better for transgender people. The result of it is that I now have all my legal documents updated—except for my Virginia birth certificate.
The problem with birth certs is that they define people as male or female strictly according to their genitalia. Transgender people cannot, cannot, be defined in this way, and imposing such a definition upon them is discriminatory because it presents transgender people with a host of problems that cisgender people don’t have to face. The usual definition of male-female amounts to a denial of the existence of transgenderism, but we transpeople do exist and we need recognition of our status so that we, like everyone else, will able to live in a way that gives us a chance of finding some happiness in this world.
There is a common argument that a gender marker should not be changed because a birth cert is a “historical document” that records a given person’s status at birth. This argument is weak. An “M” or an “F” is always assumed to be a cisgender male or female. A transgender person is neither. A transperson is trans. Hence this “historical document” is a false record. If the Commonwealth of Virginia has a right or duty to record my status, it seems they would also have an obligation to record it correctly.
The requirement that a transperson undergo surgery in order to have their record changed also reflects a misunderstanding of transgenderism. Regardless of any surgery a transperson undergoes, they are trans; and being trans they will want to live in a certain way in order to be happy. Many transpeople elect to have no surgery at all and object to the notion that in order to gain legal recognition of their status they should be forced to undergo surgery which they see as irrelevant or indeed detrimental to their happiness. Regardless of surgery, they are transgender, not cisgender, and the usual definition of (cisgender) male or female is still inappropriate for them.
An “M” suggests that they will want to live male; an “F” suggests that they will want to live female. But only the transgender individual will know how they need to live in order to be happy. By imposing an “M” or “F” on an individual, the Commonwealth is arrogating to itself the right to determine what sort of life will make that individual happy. This is a decision that should be left to the individual. It’s a question of individual freedom.