Eric Douglas Published

Birth Certificate Changes Simpler For Transgender People After Lawsuit


The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Vital Registration Office has introduced more accessible and safer policies for transgender people to make changes to their birth certificates and the ACLU has ended its lawsuit.

Previously, the Vital Registration Office required transgender applicants to produce a circuit court order directing the change. In 2020, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ended the court’s ability to order such amendments. But the registration office didn’t change its policy.

In August 2021, the ACLU, ACLU of West Virginia, and the Harvard Law School LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic brought a lawsuit. It demanded that the agency develop policies for transgender people to amend their gender marker and do it without having to disclose their transgender status on the amended birth certificate.

In April, the DHHR announced new birth certificate amendment policies.

Applicants, including transgender applicants, who are seeking to amend the gender marker on their West Virginia birth certificate, no longer need a court order. They need only provide a simple provider attestation form available from the West Virginia Vital Registration Office’s website.

Further, the new policies amend birth certificates in a manner that reduces the risk of outing transgender individuals who have had name and/or gender marker amendments by removing the previous information from the face of the newly amended birth certificate. These important policy implementations make birth certificate amendments more accessible and safer for transgender applicants.

“This is an incredible policy change not only for our clients but all transgender people with West Virginia birth certificates who require amendments,” said Taylor Brown, lead counsel and Staff Attorney with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project. “West Virginia’s new policies restore a greater degree of autonomy and self-determination for transgender people in West Virginia. In today’s climate, it is more important than ever for the government to leave personal decisions of these kinds where they belong, between an individual and their provider. Not a court, legislators, or administrative bodies. This is an important win for those reasons alone.”

ACLU-WV Executive Director Joseph Cohen agreed. “This is a major victory for the thousands of transgender West Virginians who will now be able to obtain accurate birth certificates to help them navigate their lives more safely,” he said. “But we know our work is not yet finished. Nonbinary West Virginians are still unable to obtain a birth certificate that accurately reflects their gender. Since April of this year, U.S. citizens have been able to select an X gender marker on passport applications. We will continue to work with our partners to update West Virginia’s policies so that all West Virginians can have the accurate identity documents they need.”