The process of changing a birth certificate

Process to change birth certificates

A very busy day at the Texas legislature as the 'bathroom bill' gets final approval from the Texas Senate and moves forward to the House.

The bill requires transgender people to use bathrooms that match the sex on their birth certificate.

In light of the potential new law, many are asking just how difficult it is to alter your birth certificate.

Claire Bow has gone through the process and she says it's not very easy.

Bow always knew she was different, but didn't fully realize why until college.

"I took a lot of psychology classes trying to figure it out and that's when I learned the medical term, which is transsexual," she explained.

Bow said for the next 20 years she tried to fight it until she was in her 50s and realized she no longer could.

"I was losing the will to continue living," Bow said.

So she decided to begin the process of legally changing her identity from a man to a woman.

In Texas, you need to get a court order from a judge to change your gender marker on state records.

"It's actually a very complex process," Bow said.

In Travis County, it begins with filling out two forms, a petition and a final order to change the name and sex identifier of an adult.

Next, comes the additional paperwork needed.

"The process begins with going to a mental health professional," Bow said.

The Travis County Law Library states that anyone requesting to change their sex needs to see a mental health professional and/or medical doctor first.

After what could be one or a series of visits, depending on the professional's discretion, the professional will need to write a letter stating they've examined the patient and give their diagnosis, stating why a change of sex is in the patient's best interest.

"This can be hard because many of doctors won't provide treatment for trans clients," Bow said. "When I came out I had to change doctors. The expenses associated with seeing them can run thousands to tens of thousands of dollars."

Once all the paperwork is in place, it's time to get fingerprinted and submit the final petition to a judge who will need to sign it in order to legally change a person's sex.

"From start to finish, it probably took me six months," Bow said. "About 400 hours by the time I actually finished getting mine done."

Since then Bow estimates that, as an attorney, she has helped about 130 people legally change their gender on their birth certificates.

When it comes to Senate Bill 6 potentially becoming law, she says, "The best thing they could do is just not pass it, but if they insist on passing it they need to make provisions for helping folks get this done more quickly. We're going to continue to do what we're doing and continue to try to recruit and train and educate."

The National Center for Transgender Equality says only about nine percent of the transgender community in Texas reported that all of their IDs matched the name and gender they prefer.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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