By Daniel Reynolds
Originally published on Advocate.com September 07 2013 2:11 PM ET
A bill that would help facilitate legal name changes for transgender people was passed by the California State Legislature on Friday.
Authored by Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, Assembly Bill 1121 passed by a vote of 56-18.
If signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, it will provide an easier and more inexpensive process for Californians seeking to change their name to correspond to their gender identity. The new system will also protect their privacy.
“Transgender people are entitled to have their official documents and their legal name reflect their true identity without a burdensome and expensive process that endangers their personal safety,” Atkins said in a recent statement. “I am hopeful that the governor will support this simple bill that will greatly enhance the lives of transgender Californians.”
Currently, a transgender person in California must seek a court order to obtain a name change. The change must also be published in the news, which may expose an individual to unwanted attention, as well as discrimination or abuse.
According to the Transgender Law Center, which co-sponsored the bill with Equality California, 44 percent of transgender people reported experiencing some form of discrimination, assault, or harassment in 2011.
“As a transgender man myself, I have experienced both the discrimination that often accompanies having identity documents that do not match one’s gender identity as well as the burdensome process of revising identity documents,” said Masen Davis, executive director of Transgender Law Center. “This important bill will mean more transgender people will be able to go about their daily activities – from voting to applying for jobs – without being unfairly outed or put in danger. We are grateful for the leadership of assemblymember Atkins who continues to champion fairness for all Californians.”