New Vt. law simplifies process of changing gender identity on vital documents

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 6:37 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - People in Vermont who want to amend the gender identity listed on their vital records can now do so more easily, thanks to a new law.

“This is something that is definitely needed and desired by Vermonters,” said David Englander, the senior policy and legal adviser for the Vermont Department of Health. “This year, the Legislature in Act 88 required the Department of Health to amend the vital records rule to allow Vermonters to easily and simply change their gender markers, whether it be from male to female, female to male or to a nonbinary option.

“It’s definitely a great step toward access. Anything that makes it easier for folks to get their gender marker aligned on paper is so helpful and can create a lot of headache reduction, so it’s definitely big,” said Emily Russo, the trans program coordinator of the Pride Center of Vermont.

Under the previous rules, a court appearance and a judge’s ruling were required to change one’s gender on vital documents like a birth certificate, which could cost hundreds of dollars. The new process is free and people who want to change their gender can download a self-attestation form from the Department of Health’s website.

“It was just a lot more steps and I think paperwork can be really daunting for folks, so anything to make it easier. It makes my job easier but it’s also a really big headache off the folks that are filling out the paperwork,” Russo said.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation allowed for similar ease of gender changes to be reflected on driver’s licenses in 2019, and Wanda Minoli, the commissioner of Motor Vehicles, says allowing people to self-identify their gender should be a priority.

“I think it’s really important when your ID doesn’t identify with the gender that you express it can be very uncomfortable and individuals can be put in very uncomfortable situations,” Minoli said.

Officials from the Department of Health say that the act is a step toward achieving equity in the state.

“It’s important that government recognize the variety of experiences that Vermonters have and in this case, as in many cases, the question of equity is urgent,” Englander said.

After completing the online form it still must be notarized and mailed to the Department of Health to complete the process.

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