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New Regulations Modernize Process for Changing Gender Designation on Rhode Island Birth Certificates

New vital records regulations, filed Wednesday, October 22, will modernize Rhode Island’s birth certificate policies to allow transgender people to obtain accurate gender designations on their birth certificates. The change in regulations take effect on November 11, 2014.
GLAD has prepared a tool kit to assist Rhode Island residents in the process of requesting a gender marker change, which is available here.
As a result of this change in regulations, the RI Department of Health will no longer require gender affirmation surgery in order to change the gender designation on birth certificates. Gender markers can now be changed with proof that the person has undergone “treatment appropriate for the individual for the purpose of gender transition based on contemporary clinical standards” provided by a physician, certified nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant who has treated or evaluated them.
GLAD Senior Staff Attorney Janson Wu, who submitted testimony on GLAD’s behalf in support of the change in regulations, said, “This change brings Rhode Island in line with contemporary professional standards of care along with the best practices of six other states and several federal agencies. It also aligns with The American Medical Association’s call for the elimination of surgery requirements for changes to birth certificate gender markers, a stance based on the fact that gender transition is a highly individualized process, and surgical intervention is not an accurate benchmark for legal or social recognition of one’s gender.”
The new Rhode Island regulations are now comparable to existing policies in California, Iowa, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
“The impact of this decision for transgender people born in Rhode Island is enormous,” added Wu. “Birth certificates represent a necessary and vital document that is required throughout a person’s life to perform various activities and access essential services.” According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NGTLF/NCTE Survey), 44% of 6,450 transgender respondents reported harassment, assault, or denial of service when they presented identifying documents that were incongruent with their visible gender expression.
Individuals seeking further information or assistance with the process should contact GLAD’s legal information service, GLAD Answers, at www.GLADAnswers.org