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HRC Arkansas: Discriminatory Birth Certificate Bill Targets Trans People

Today, HRC expressed grave concern over a proposed bill that would prohibit changes to a person’s gender marker on their birth certificate, a move that would disproportionately affect transgender Arkansans. The bill, H.B. 1894, doubles down on discrimination, and would make an onerous process even more difficult for transgender Arkansans seeking to have their identification documents reflect their gender identity.

“This bill is a mean-spirited attempt to further marginalize and target transgender Arkansans by denying them the dignity of having their official government documents reflect who they are,” said Kendra R. Johnson, HRC Arkansas state director. “Not allowing transgender people to change the gender marker on their birth certificate opens them up to all types of discrimination — including in housing, employment and health care. This bill is dangerous, insidious, and HRC Arkansas opposes it.”

Current state law makes it difficult and expensive for transgender people to update their birth certificate, requiring them to undergo surgery just to get an amended document. It is shameful that this law exists, given that medical professionals recommend individualized courses of gender transition. Even among those for whom surgery is appropriate, many cannot receive it because their insurance doesn’t cover such care, appropriate providers may not be available, and medical procedures may not be an option because of a pre-existing condition.

Nationally, only 11 percent of transgender people have been able to update all their identification documents and records, including birth certificates, to reflect their appropriate name and gender.

In 2014, HRC launched Project One America, an initiative geared towards advancing social, institutional and legal equality in Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi. HRC Arkansas continues to work to advance equality for LGBTQ Arkansans who have no state level protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations. Through HRC Arkansas, we are working toward a future of fairness every day — changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.

  • Transgender people with incongruent identity documents frequently experience violence and discrimination;
  • The National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 40 percent of transgender people with incongruent documents experienced harassment;.
  • Additionally, 15 percent reported being asked to leave an establishment, and 3 percent reported being assaulted;.
  • Identity documents are required by employers for payroll purposes, and incongruent documents can lead to a transgender employee being “outed” at work, which may result in discrimination;.
  • Incongruent documents can also cause unnecessary expense or suspicion by the government when dealing with a person who has unmatched documents. Bills such as H.B. 1894 would exacerbate this already troubling issue.

In 2014, HRC launched Project One America, an initiative geared towards advancing social, institutional and legal equality in Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi. HRC Arkansas continues to work to advance equality for LGBTQ Arkansans who have no state level protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations. Through HRC Arkansas, we are working toward a future of fairness every day — changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.