FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: Patrick Paschall
Phone: 410.625.5428 (office); or 409.771.6763 (cell)
July 6, 2015, Baltimore, MD – Today FreeState Legal, Maryland’s legal advocacy organization dedicated to serving the low-income lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community in Maryland, launches an effort to provide free legal advice to transgender and intersex people who seek to update the gender marker on their birth certificate. This initiative arises out of a new law set to take effect on October 1, 2015 that makes it easier for transgender and intersex people to update the gender designations on their birth certificates.
“FreeState Legal is excited to announce that we are offering free legal advice to transgender and intersex people who want to update the gender marker on their birth certificate,” said Patrick Paschall, FreeState Legal’s Executive Director. “The value of having an accurate identity document cannot be overstated. Think about how often you show your ID – at airports, movie theaters, restaurants, when applying for a job, when submitting a rental application for an apartment, and in countless other places in society. When transgender people have outdated identity documents, they are outing themselves as transgender and risking discrimination every time they are asked to show ID.”
Specifically, the law has four new provisions. The new law:
(1) Removes an outdated surgery requirement. Previously, transgender and intersex people who wish to update the gender marker on their birth certificate were required to prove they had undergone some form of surgical intervention – often denied by health insurance and prohibitively expensive. FreeState Legal has over 150 clients that have updated their name but were unable to access an updated birth certificate gender marker because the outdated surgery requirement was prohibitively expensive.
(2) Issues a Birth Certificate that is new, not amended. When a birth certificate indicates that the gender has been amended, the person presenting the birth certificate is instantly outed as a transgender person and often experiences discrimination as a result.
(3) Removes the court order requirement – meaning individuals can simply file paperwork with the state vital records agency rather than requiring that all individuals obtain a court order declaring gender change.
(4) Explicitly covers intersex people.
“At FreeState Legal, we want to help by providing free legal advice to transgender and intersex people and helping to remove barriers to accessing employment, health care, housing, and access to public accommodations,” Paschall continued. “These are the reasons we lobbied in Annapolis to change the law, and that is why we are offering free legal advice to and removing barriers for transgender and intersex people that need it.”
“And because of the way the new law is written, nearly every transgender or intersex person can be helped by the new law, whether they were born in Maryland or somewhere else, and regardless of whether they have already updated their birth certificate or if they have not begun the process of updating any identity documents.”
FreeState Legal’s legal intake hours take place Tuesdays 9:30am-1pm, Wednesdays 1pm-4:30pm, and Thursdays 9:30am-1pm. Clients can walk-in during those hours, call our office at 410-625-LGBT (5428), or fill out an intake form online at www.freestatelegal.org.
FreeState Legal is a statewide non-profit organization that serves the low-income lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community in Maryland through direct legal services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, and outreach and training activities. For more information, visit www.freestatelegal.org, call 410-625-5428, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please feel free to refer to our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Guide on the Birth Certificate Bill. You can access it by clicking here.