News Articles

Bill in Tennessee legislature would permit change of birth certificate for transsexuals

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A Tennessee state senator has introduced a bill to allow a person who has undergone a sex-change operation to change his or her birth certificate.

Senate Bill 37, introduced by Memphis Sen. Steve Cohen on Jan. 13, states that Tennessee is one of only three states that “refuse to allow transgendered persons the opportunity to correct their birth certificate.” That point parallels a chart on the Internet by Lamba Legal, a homosexual legal organization, which lists Tennessee, Ohio and Idaho as the only three states that do not permit a birth certificate change after a sex-change procedure.

Cohen’s bill further asserts that Tennessee is “the lone state in the country with a statute specifically prohibiting the correction of sex designation on a birth certificate.”

The bill proposes to amend the Tennessee Code to state: “Upon receipt of a sworn statement by a licensed physician indicating that the gender of an individual born in Tennessee has been changed by surgical procedure, the certificate of birth of the individual shall be amended to reflect the change.”

Cohen, reached by telephone by Baptist Press Feb. 11, described the bill as serving a homeland security purpose as well as “reflecting reality, that the person’s sex has changed.”

“It is important for homeland security issues that people who often need birth certificates for identification that the birth certificate’s sex matches the sex that they, in fact, are,” Cohen said.

A spokesperson for the Tennessee Governor’s Office of Homeland Security could not be reached for comment Feb. 11 on whether the agency’s legislative agenda includes a measure such as proposed by Cohen.

Cohen also stated, “At birth, sex is determined by physical appearance, not psychology. If the person psychologically is of a different gender and pursues sexual transgender surgery to have their physical and hormonal basis to correlate with their psychological makeup, then an amended birth certificate is appropriate, because that is their sex.”

Both the original birth certificate — which “will remain as is” — and the amended birth certificate would be kept on file by the state, Cohen said.

Ann Bennett, a longtime pro-family advocate in Kingsport, Tenn., told Baptist Press, “To me, sex is determined by your chromosomes. Somebody who has been altered surgically and chemically really should not have their identity protected from people who might get involved emotionally with them.

“Our current laws should protect a person from being victimized by an emotionally needy person hiding from who they are,” Bennett said.

Concerning the three states where birth certificates cannot be altered after sex-change operations, Bennett said, “It’s a surprise to me that the homosexual movement has already achieved this legislation in so many other states.”

The Tennessee legislature, in 1977, added the guideline to the Tennessee Code regarding the amendment of vital records to prohibit the changing of birth certificates after a sex-change operation. The 1977 guideline reads, “The sex of an individual will not be changed on the original certificate of birth as a result of sex change surgery.”

Cohen’s bill has been referred to the Tennessee Senate’s General Welfare, Health & Human Resources Committee. The nine-member committee, with five Republicans and four Democrats, is chaired by a Memphis Democrat, John Ford.

Ford was appointed committee chairman by John S. Wilder, a Democrat senator from Mason, Tenn., who has led the Senate since 1971 and was voted back into the lieutenant governor’s office despite a new 17-16 Republican majority emerging from last November’s election. Wilder appointed state Sen. Diane Black, a Republican from Gallatin, Tenn., as the committee’s vice chair.
Reported by Art Toalston & Erin Curry.

    About the Author

  • Staff