ANNAPOLIS – Jessica Meredith Xavier, 44, had her “re- assignment of sex surgery” in September 1993. That, she told lawmakers Tuesday, should have been the toughest part of deciding to change genders.
It took Xavier 15 months to get Montgomery County to issue a birth certificate reflecting that she now was female. She wants others in Maryland to be spared that battle.
“A birth certificate is more than just a notice of live birth,” Xavier told the House Environmental Matters Committee in favor of a bill requiring the state to issue new birth certificates when individuals surgically change their genders.
The bill’s sponsor, Del. Sharon Grosfeld, D-Montgomery, said the bill was introduced last year, but did not pass because the committee wanted the matter handled through regulation by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
But Grosfeld said she had written to Martin Wasserman, the department’s secretary, to see whether such regulation was possible. “He said no, it had to be done with legislation,” she said in an interview.
Currently, the department alters the old certificate, rather than issuing a new one.
“The certificate they get… is either whited out or crossed out,” Grosfeld said. “It presents a huge problem for applying for something official like a passport or a driver’s license.”
Xavier said Maryland and Ohio are the only states that continue to do this.
“One woman was arrested when she showed her birth certificate to the MVA to get a new driver’s license,” Xavier said. “She was absolved of the charges, but under the current law she could have spent 13 years in jail.”
Grosfeld said her bill would address the discrimination that transsexuals face when trying to get an official document. Xavier agreed.
“We are looking to lead ordinary lives. We already have enough difficulties,” Xavier said. “The law has a lot of catching up to do.”
The committee took no action on the bill Tuesday, and has not yet scheduled a vote. -30-