Colorado Governor Signs Transgender Birth Certificates and Conversion Therapy Ban into Law

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Gov. Jared Polis, the nation’s first openly gay governor, gave a rousing pre-launch Friday to his first LGBT Pride Month by signing into law two measures designed to improve life for many Coloradans.

House Bill 1039 allows transgender people to obtain new birth certificates instead of amended ones, without having to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

House Bill 1129 bans licensed medical professionals from providing conversion therapy to minors.

HB 1039 will be known as Jude’s Law, after the now 13-year-old transgender girl who testified for the measure since age 9.

Jude, joined by her sister and parents, said she’s glad the bill finally has been passed and signed.

“I knew that I could be helping so many people just by showing up and telling my own story,” she said.

Testifying at the Capitol takes “a lot of confidence,” especially for a young person, she said, but she’s had strong support from her family and many others. Her parents asked that her last name not be published.

“Today’s an exciting day for an inclusive Colorado,” Polis said before signing the bills on the Capitol’s west steps. Accompanied by first gentleman Marlon Reis, Polis noted that it’s been 27 years since Coloradans voted in favor of Amendment 2, which allowed discrimination based on sexual orientation. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the law in 1996.

Colorado since has undergone a “remarkable transformation” into a state that values the contributions of every resident, he added. “We are stronger together; we accept and celebrate our diversity.”

Under HB 1039, the state registrar in the Department of Public Health and Environment can issue a new birth certificate without the previously required court order or gender reassignment surgery, and those who received an amended certificate can seek a new one.

Surgery isn’t always an option, supporters say, because of medical conditions, cost or because the person is a minor.

For minors, such as Jude, a medical professional must sign an affidavit that the minor is undergoing a gender transition with the doctor’s approval.

The new law also will end the practice of publishing the name change in a newspaper when it’s due to a change in gender identity. Supporters say such publication poses a risk to those people.

Until the new law takes effect Jan. 1, changing the birth certificate still will require a court order.

The changes in Colorado law come as the Trump administration is banning transgender people from serving in the military, proposing a rule this week to allow health care providers to discriminate on the basis of gender identity.

The administration also issued a memothat would erase federal recognition of transgender people.

Another proposed rule, also issued in the past week, would remove protections for transgender people at homeless shelters.

But in Colorado, Polis also signed HB 1129, banning licensed physicians and mental health professionals from providing conversion therapy to those under age 18. Parts of the law take effect Aug. 2, and it’s in full effect Oct. 1.

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