Playing Games With Birth Certificates

An interesting Chicago Tribune article caught my eye:

Before undergoing sex-change surgery in 2007, Kari Rothkopf drove from her Wisconsin home to the vital records office in Springfield to ask about switching the gender on her birth certificate from male to female.

In August 2007, a clerk and her supervisor told Rothkopf, who was born in Dixon, Ill., that the birth certificate couldn’t be changed because she had planned to have her sex reassignment surgery outside the United States. On Tuesday, Rothkopf, 36, and Chicago resident Victoria “Tori” Kirk, both of whom had their sex-change surgeries in Thailand, sued the State of Illinois.

Their lawsuit, filed by attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union, called the denials a violation of state law and asked a judge to order that their birth certificates be changed.

These are people who WANT to change their birth certificates. The Illinois Dept. of Vital Records that says they can’t is the same Illinois Dept. of Vital Records that so blithely changes adoptee birth certificates when we DON’T want them changed. The same ACLU that is advocating in favor of these citizens is the same ACLU that advocates against adoptee records access. Is anyone else choking on a heaping mouthful of irony?

Maybe the Dept. of Vital Records should provide transsexuals the ability to change their birth certificates for a tasty fee, just like they charge adoptees who attempt to access their original birth certificates. Or, even better, why not seal transsexuals’ birth certificates, so their current-gender selves are denied access unless they go through a registry or intermediary to contact their previous-gender selves? Of course their previous-gender selves can file a denial, just in case their current-gender selves turn out to be stalkers. After all, it works for adoptees, right? (crickets chirping…)

(For all I know the state already has some way to amend the BCs for a price, since they’re clearly in the business of mucking around with peoples’ birth certificates. And on an off-topic note, I find it offensive that a word search at Chicago Tribune for “transsexual” brings up Google ads for “free sex offender search,” “educator misconduct” and “clergy abuse.”)


  1. Thanks for writing about this, Triona. I tried to and just came across mean spirited. You’ve said it really well. I think they should should have registry to reunite with their former selves.

    The ACLU looks foolish here, when you line them up against obcs for the adopted. They can’t have it both ways.

    For me a state-generated birth certificate should be an accurate account of what was at birth. Any change is supplemental or amended without sealing. The 2 documents go together. For example, if a name is misspelled or a wrong date appears on the original bc of most people, a non-amended copy or an supplemental form is created with that correction stapled to the back. Same with legititamatazation At least that’s what done in Ohio. I realize that transgendered folks have safety issues, which is what I got hung up on while writing, but a bc is a bc. Shoot me.

  2. Lets not forget those of hispanic descent here in Texas who can’t get passports because they were born by a midwife in a certain part of Texas. The ACLU will defend them but won’t defend adoptees. Its because they are now practicing adoption.

  3. http://Anonymous says

    I need to disagree that the BC shouldnt be changed as it’s used repeatedly throughout life for passports, professional licenses, insurance coverage, and such

    For a person that transitioned who is diagnosed with Transsexualism had many years of verification from medical professionals, therapy, and medical treatment.

    There is an interesting aspect of the law that deals with a person’s “legal” gender and having a BC that doesn’t match a person can result in significant problems the rest of their lives.

  4. http://legitimatbastard says

    Anonymous said, “There is an interesting aspect of the law that deals with a person’s “legal” gender and having a BC that doesn’t match a person can result in significant problems the rest of their lives.”

    So what?

    My birth certificate was confiscated by the State of New york and falsified by the State of New York. I have hd nothing but trouble all of my life because of it. Stop whinning about transgendered people who want to change thheir birth certificates. A birth certificagte records a BIRTH that is why it is called a Certificate of Live Birth. A transgendered person should get a identificate card that says Transgendered because that is what happened. Do not try to re-write history. Be who you are and accept your history. I know there are gay, lesbian and transgendered people who are also adopted and have that double-triple bind: sealed and falsified birth certificates. So, by your standards, Anonynous, an adoptee who is also transgendered would be changing thier FALSIFIED birth certificate to reflect the NEW gender and replace the former gender. Interesting when one compounds one lie after another.

    Hmmmm…wonder what gender is declared when a true bi-gendered person is born with the parts of both female and male? What goes on the birth certificate then?