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COA orders man’s birth certificate change to reflect gender

December 4, 2014

The birth certificate of a person who was born a woman but now identifies as a man and has undergone extensive medical treatment for gender transition should be changed to show he is male, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

A Tippecanoe County man asked the court to grant his petition for change of gender, which is required to change a birth certificate. He had begun living as a male in 2011 and later completed sex reassignment surgery. All other important documents in his life reflected his male gender except for his birth certificate. The trial court denied the petition, believing it did not have authority to grant the request since the General Assembly had not yet spoken on the issue.

“I.C. §16-37-2-10 provides general authority for the amendment of birth certificates, without any express limitation (in the statute or elsewhere) regarding gender amendments. In light of this statute, as well as the inherent equity power of a court of general jurisdiction, we conclude that the trial court had authority to grant the petition at hand,” Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote in In Re Petition for Change of Birth Certificate, 79A03-1403-MI-91.

“The legislature is free to craft specific requirements. Without such guidance, however, it is our view that the ultimate focus should be on whether the petition is made in good faith and not for a fraudulent or unlawful purpose. There can be no question in this case that Appellant made an adequate showing in support of his petition. He presented ample medical evidence regarding his gender transition, which culminated in sex reassignment surgery. Moreover, Appellant’s genuine desire to have all identifying documents conform to his current physical and social identity is apparent.”

The case is remanded for the trial court to grant the petition and issue an order directing the Indiana State Health Department to amend the birth certificate to reflect his male gender.
 

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