Local victories: gender-neutral bathrooms, more accessible birth certificates
The biggest news of the month, that the Supreme Court has overturned DOMA and dismissed Prop 8, has certainly been reason to celebrate. And hopefully it will pave the way for marriage equality in Oregon come 2014 (fingers seriously crossed!). But there have been a couple smaller, more local victories recently that we appreciated.
Multnomah County board Chairman Jeff Cogen signed an executive order making Multnomah County one of the first in the country to require single-occupancy gender-neutral bathrooms in new construction projects for the county. Additionally, personnel will survey the county’s 120 existing buildings and implement gender-neutral bathrooms wherever possible.
This executive order follows in the footsteps of Grant High School, which earlier this year designated six of their single-occupancy bathrooms as unisex.
Our friends at the Q Center were present for the signing. Addie Jones, a staff member at SMYRC (the Sexual and Gender Minority Youth Resource Center, the youth and young adult program of Q Center), even gave a statement, which you can read in full here.
The other great bit of news is this: Governor Kitzhaber signed House Bill 2093, which, as of January 1, 2014, removes the surgery requirement imposed on transgender Oregonians seeking an accurate birth certificate. Only a few other states have lifted this requirement.
Folks will still have to prove they have undergone gender transition treatment (as determined by a health care provider on an individual basis), but surgery — which can be too expensive or simply undesired — will no longer be a requirement of that treatment. Basic Rights Oregon explains why this is so important:
Birth certificates are more than a piece of paper: they are a gateway to access Social Security benefits, to obtain professional certification, to register for schools and colleges, and in countless other situations. Having inconsistent documents can impose serious barriers to finding meaningful employment or housing, and creates barriers for parents of transgender children and youth seeking accurate school records. Removing the surgery requirement is an important step forward to removing those challenges.
Progress comes in little steps — we followed the addition of a third gender category to Pakistani identity cards in 2011, and trans rights victories in Ontario and Argentina in 2012 — but it is still progress. And we are thankful for it.