Calif. Death Certificates to Reflect Whatever Gender Identity People Want

by Ian Tuttle

California governor Jerry Brown is set to sign a bill that would allow California death certificates to reflect a person’s chosen gender identity rather than the sex listed on the deceased’s birth certificate.

The bill, passed by the California state house 66 to 4, “requires a person completing a death certificate to record the decedent’s sex to reflect the decedent’s gender identity,” as provided by an “informant.” However, if presented with “a birth certificate, a driver’s license, a social security record, a court order approving a name or gender change, a passport, an advanced health care directive, or proof of clinical treatment for gender transition,” the official is to record the gender identity that corresponds to that provided documentation.

Arguing in support of the legislation, California state-house speaker Toni Atkins, the San Diego-area Democrat who authored the bill, contended: “Once we are deceased, we are often at the mercy of others to treat us with dignity. The very least we can do is ensure individuals are given basic human dignity by honoring their authentic selves when they pass so that more pain is not inflicted upon grieving loved ones or the community.”

Opponents maintain that the bill makes it possible for acquaintances to alter a person’s legal gender after death even if the decedent did not take steps to change their gender identity during their lifetime.

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