Illinois: No sex change for you!

Two women are denied new birth certificates because their sex reassignment was performed overseas.


Tracy Clark-Flory
January 29, 2009 1:30AM (UTC)

Two women who recently underwent sex reassignment surgery are suing the state of Illinois for refusing to reissue their birth certificates. The battle over a single letter, "M" or "F," on official documents is a familiar one for trans-activists, but it has only recently become an issue in Illinois. For more than four decades, the state's Department of Vital Records allowed for sex changes on birth certificates, but five years ago a policy change limited recognition to sex reassignments performed by a surgeon licensed in the United States.

Both women had their surgeries performed in Thailand. One of the plaintiffs, Karissa Rothkopf, explains, “My surgeon was the best option -- the best medical option -- for me. My choice of surgeon should not affect my ability to get access to an accurate, current birth certificate." Department spokesperson Melaney Arnold simply said: "We are following the Vital Records Act ... The part that we are particularly looking at is the definition of 'physician'. 'Physician' means a person licensed to practice medicine in Illinois or any other [U.S.] state." The reality, however, is that many U.S. health insurance company do not cover sexual reassignment surgeries, so many seek out cheaper operations overseas.

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Officials haven't explained the actual logic behind discriminating against those who cannot afford, or for whatever reason choose against, surgery in the U.S. In preventing them from fully transitioning genders, it exposes them to serious consequences. Victoria Kirk, the other plaintiff in the suit, says: "A document that says I am male puts me at risk of embarrassment, harassment and possibly even physical violence."


Tracy Clark-Flory

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