When Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed HB 2673A, it marked a milestone in our movement for LGBTQ equality—it is Oregon’s first standalone transgender equality bill ever passed in our state.

This law will create an administrative option that will be safer, faster and more private process for transgender Oregonians to update their name and gender on their Oregon birth certificates. This option is particularly important to transgender Oregonians living outside of Portland. 

Nora Broker was one of more than a dozen people who shared her story to help pass the bill.

“I grew up in Corvallis, a pretty small town, and trans people in small communities face extra challenges,” she said. “We may know that we’re different, but may have no one in our daily lives who provides an example that makes sense. Further, in a small community, everyone is under close scrutiny—your life is inherently public, because everyone is so aware of one another. This makes it all the more terrifying to face posting a name and gender change publicly, or to face a hearing in open court. Folks in small communities like my home town have a particularly compelling need for a more private pathway.” 

Having mismatched IDs is a significant barrier in transgender communities. The 2015 U.S. Trans Survey estimates only one in 10 transgender individuals has accurate IDs, because the current court process lacks privacy, is costly and onerous.  

“Transgender Oregonians consistently report harassment, discrimination and even violence when they have IDs that don’t match their gender presentation,” said Amy Herzfeld-Copple, Basic Rights Oregon’s Co-Executive Director. “HB 2673A creates a simple administrative option for transgender Oregonians to update Oregon birth certificates, so they can more readily have IDs that match their identity presentation and more confidently participate in society.”

“Many transgender Oregonians fear being publicly outed by having sensitive medical and personal information disclosed through the current court process,” said Nancy Haque, Basic Right’s Co-Executive Director. “They have to post their name change on a public bulletin board and sometimes must answer personal medical questions in open court. This is a real barrier.

“Having a driver’s license, credit cards and insurance card that accurately reflect one’s name and gender simply makes it easier to get a job, housing and access medical care,” Nancy added.

Oregon is consistently regarded as one of the most LGBTQ friendly states in the nation. The Oregon Equality Act, passed a decade ago, provides comprehensive non-discrimination protections for Oregonians based on their gender identity and sexual orientation.

Oregon has also won several administrative policy changes to reduce discrimination for transgender Oregonians, including transgender-inclusive Medicaid; an insurance bulletin that prohibits health care discrimination by private insurance carriers; and statewide education guidelines that protect transgender youth in schools. This bill, however, is a milestone for Oregon’s transgender community, because it’s the first bill signed into law exclusively to support transgender Oregonians. 

“The testimony from transgender community members throughout the state was really compelling to our legislators,” Nancy said. “It’s really encouraging to see this kind of leadership by the Oregon legislature on transgender equality at a time when the Trump Administration is rolling back protections.”

The Oregon law will become effective January 1, 2018. California is the only other state to have a similar administrative option for transgender people to update their birth certificates.