Trans* Oregonians and their allies have reason to celebrate this month. Thanks to House Bill 2673, which was signed by Governor Kate Brown on May 18, 2017 and went into effect January 1st, 2018, it is now much easier for Oregon-born individuals to change their legal name and sex for the purpose of affirming gender identity. This means more trans people in Oregon will be able to obtain birth certificates that match their gender identity. With an updated birth certificate, it is much easier to obtain updated driver licenses or state ID cards and other identity documents.
These reforms are significant because having an identity document that does not match their gender presentation can lead to problems for trans* individuals. These problems can range from the mundane (perhaps they are not allowed into a bar because their ID doesn’t match their gender presentation) to the dangerous (mis-matched identity documents may “out” trans people and put them at risk of violence or discrimination).
So what exactly does House Bill 2673 do? It allows anyone born in Oregon to request to change their name and/or sex on their birth certificate to reflect their identity accurately–without a court order. With this new law, applicants just need a notarized application that meets the requirements of the Oregon Health Authority. This is a drastic change from the prior process, which required a lengthy and expensive court proceeding in which the person had to prove that they had undergone surgical, hormonal, “or other treatment” for gender change and that they had “completed” their transition from their prior designated sex. The new law recognizes that not all trans* people wish to undergo surgical or hormonal intervention to affirm their gender.
In Chapter 111 of the Oregon Administrative Rules, the Health Authority sets out the requirements for an administrative Name or Sex change request:
- The applicant must be at least 18 years old or have the consent of a parent or legal guardian. (The rules do not explicitly require both parents to consent if the child has multiple living parents; at this time it appears that consent of only one parent is needed.)
- The applicant must have been born in Oregon.
- The applicant must be able to prove their current identity (usually by showing a State ID or Driver License).
- The applicant must not have previously changed the name or sex on their birth certificate through this administrative process.
- You do not have to change both your name and your sex at the same time. However, you can change each only once through the administrative process.
- If you have changed your name through the court process but your current sex designation does not match your gender identity, you may use the new administrative process for both name and gender.
- The applicant must submit the proper form to the Health Authority.
- The applicant must swear or affirm in front of a notary that the request is “for the purpose of affirming [their] gender identity which is different than the sex shown on the current birth certificate” and the application must be notarized.
- Note that this application is ONLY for persons who are changing their legal name or gender to affirm their gender identity. If you have different reasons for changing your name, you must go through a separate court process. Lying on the application is a Class C Felony, punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and fines up to $125,000.
- In addition to the M (male) and F (female) designations, individuals using this process may also select “X” as their gender designation, meaning that the person identifies as nonbinary (or another gender).
- Pay a $35 amendment fee and a $25 fee for a new birth certificate ($30 if you need a long form certificate). If approved, a new birth certificate will generally be sent to the applicant within 7 to 10 business days after being ordered.
The application can be submitted to Oregon Vital Records in person at 800 NE Oregon St. Suite 225, Portland, OR 97232 or by mail to PO Box 14050, Portland, OR 97293-0050. You can call the Vital Records office at 971-673-1137 for further information or visit www.healthoregon.org/hb2673.