In the United States, the birth certificate started off as a tool to discriminate against vulnerable groups. And to this day, it continues marginalizing people, particularly transgender folks who sometimes have to jump through hoops so their gender identity’s accurately represented on these documents. And while we still have a ways to go until all transgender people can have correct gender markers throughout the United States, this week the US moved one step closer to true parity.
Plaintiffs Daniela Arroyo González, Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, J.G, and Victoria Rodríguez Roldán sued the territory. Three months ago, in Arroyo v. Rosselló, the US District Court for Puerto Rico overruled the island’s ban on changing gender markers. In the opinion, Judge Carmen Consuelo Cerezo wrote, “The right to identify our own existence lies at the heart of one’s humanity. And so, we must heed their voices: ‘the woman that I am,’ ‘the man that I am.’” This week, it finally went into effect.
Arroyo, the plaintiff at center of the suit, has known since age 3 that she was a girl. After a lifetime of harassment and mistreatment, this is a milestone. “It is a huge relief to finally have an accurate birth certificate that is a true reflection of who I am,” she said in a Lambda Legal statement. “It makes me feel safer and like my country finally recognizes me.”
A man was the first Puerto Rican to change their gender marker. He shared a video of himself explaining the importance of this decision. “This triumph is for everyone who took this case to the federal court,” he said. “…We have the right to [live our lives} calmly and peacefully like everyone else. We don’t want additional rights; we want the same rights as everyone else, that our rights are respected as everyone else… And until we reach equity and equality, we’re not going to stop. We are in resistance, and the trans force and the trans revolution is here to stay.”