(March 14) – A bill to remove one of the many obstacles that transgender people must overcome to live safely in Colorado won voice-vote House approval this morning.
HB17-1122, sponsored by Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, would remove the current requirement that transgender people undergo sex reassignment surgery before being allowed to change the gender marker on their birth certificates. Not all transgender people need, want, can afford or are medically eligible for this costly surgery.
Under the bill, an affidavit from a licensed health care provider attesting that the petitioner has undergone treatment for the purpose of gender transition would be sufficient grounds for obtaining a new birth certificate. The change would align with the process already in effect for Colorado drivers’ licenses and for federal documents like passports and Social Security cards.
“These are people’s lives,” Rep. Esgar told the House. “These are simply Coloradans trying to live life to the best of their ability in our state as who they are.”
Discrimination is a constant barrier to transgender people’s efforts to live authentically and provide for themselves. Transgender people are victims of violent crime and bullying at much higher rates than the general population. Transgender Coloradans also face severe workplace discrimination and have higher rates of suicide.
Also approved by voice vote this morning was HB17-1188, sponsored by Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, to add sexual orientation and mental and physical disability to the Colorado statute prohibiting bias-motivated harassment.
“We’re just truing up the language so that harassment as well as assault charges can be brought in cases involving these categories of Coloradans,” Rep. Foote said.
Both bills are headed to the Senate after recorded votes coming later this week.