Wednesday, 7 October 2009

A Small Victory in Illinois

I wrote some time ago that:
At some point, you have to realise that you're playing a game by someone else's rules, a game where things like compassion, rationality, even sanity have no place. A game where the rules can be changed by the enemy at whim, where there really are no rules, no consistency, just pure irrational spite.

Sometimes courts realise too. And lawyers. And when they're so obviously in the wrong, sometimes they surrender.

From a mailing list I'm on:
Hello everyone.

I wanted to share a development that has occurred in respect to those that are:

A) Born in the State of Illinois
B) Receive SRS by a physician that is not licensed in the United States.

Prior to some very recent changes in how the Department of Vital Statistics processes the applications for those that were seeking a new birth certificate from the state of Illinois, and had not received their SRS from a surgeon licensed in the USA. The state's response had always been to deny issuing a Birth Certificate with the individual's post-operative gender reflected.

In 2009, a lawsuit was filed that caused a review of the practices being applied in the review of the new birth certificate applications. Due to this lawsuit (and the facts brought forward by the ACLU) the state NOW allows applications to be accompanied by a certification from a physician that "is" licensed in the US and new birth certificates WILL be issues if the surgical guidelines of SRS are satisfied.

If you were born in the state of Illinois and have had your request denied in the past (due to your surgery being performed by a physician not licensed in the United States), the time has come to resubmit your application by using the new forms that are now available on-line through the department of vital statistics website.

I hope that this information is helpful to those that are in the above situation.
A win. But why did we have to fight this battle in the first place? Oh well, never mind, on to the next problem. Then the one after that. Then the one after that.


Abby said...

Zoe, I've had a report from another person who presumably would benefit from this development that, rather than actually changing its policies for all applicants who had SRS outside the U.S. (except for Dr. Brassard, who I understand is licensed in the U.S.), the Illinois Dept. of Vital Statistics instead simply issued amended birth certificates to the plaintiffs in this lawsuit. Because the claims of the plaintiffs were resolved by this maneuver, the court apparently dismissed the lawsuit as moot. If true, then this lawsuit was only a "win" for the named plaintiffs. Anyone else will be faced with the same refusal to issue an amended birth certificate if they had their SRS overseas that led to this lawsuit in the first place. I've seen no news reports on this suit since shortly after it was filed, so it's hard to know what the actual status is at this point. Based on what I know, however, I'm being cautious before declaring victory.

Abby said...

I should add that, as I indicated in the comment I just left on your earlier story on this lawsuit, it is my understanding that only the Illinois legislature, not the Dept. of Vital Statistics, can make the changes necessary to eliminate this ridiculous requirement. So, that's another reason why I'm unsure that we really have "won" on this issue.

Zoe Brain said...

Under what legal authority did they issue the amended BC?

They can't have it both ways: either they are legally precluded from issuing an amended BC, or they are not. They must have either acted illegally in refusing to amend the BC, or by amending it now without a court order.

Abby said...

I don't know, Zoe. That's one of the questions I have too. It doesn't make sense to me that the Dept. of Vital Statistics could avoid having this lawsuit proceed to a (presumably adverse) decision on the merits by doing what they said before they couldn't do without an amendment to the statutes involved. But that is my understanding of what they did.

The plaintiffs were represented by attorneys from the ACLU LGBT and HIV/AIDS Rights Project. I haven't looked on their website to see if there is any information about the current status of the lawsuit, but that would be good place to start to figure this out. If you do find out more, I'd be interested in whatever you find.