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Critical Thinking: SB657 - Certificate of birth; New certificate issued to show change of sex

Updated: Jan 18

The idea of this blog is to provide a closer look at what happens in the day-to-day role of a citizen legislator during the General Assembly session. So, with that in mind I want to explain a bit about what went on during our Health sub-committee meeting earlier this week. On this sub-committee, there are two Republicans and three Democrats, only two were present for the meeting. One of the bills that I proposed came up for discussion, and there was another bill of great interest that was heard during the meeting.

SB 657 Certificate of birth; new certificate issued to show change of sex

The second bill, SB657, that came before the Health subcommittee this week was in reference to the ability of a trans person to change their sex on their birth certificate. As an ob/gyn and a scientist I can see that what sex you are when you are born is an undeniable fact based on the sex chromosomes you receive from your parents. This is entirely separate from gender identity or sexual orientation. However, the Code of Virginia already allows for a person to change their sex on a birth certificate. SB657 clarifies and streamlines the process.

During public debate on the bill, I heard from people who have experienced immense challenges in life because their appearance did not match what was detailed on driver’s license or passport. A change in those forms of identification requires a birth certificate as documentation. I can see where going through this process can be completely demoralizing. Sex reassignment and transition is a significant commitment. It takes several years, requires a rigorous psychological evaluation and medical treatment, and in many cases pretty significant surgery. This is not a decision that is made lightly.

So, as I consider all the variables I also think about my principles for legislating. America is designed so that we have the freedom to make our own choices and direct our own lives. Laws should not reflect one person’s values over another person’s right to be free. We need to make sure that our laws do not abstract people‘s ability to live free.

Personally, I deeply believe in the dignity and value of every person. Laws we pass should enable but not restrict our freedom and dignity. To me this is the essence of being Republican.

So, I support this legislation. I helped to amend it and improve it.

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