The state of Illinois is close to settling a dispute over how it handles birth certificates for people who undergo sex changes.
Under the proposed settlement, people would be able to change the gender on their birth certificate even if their sex-change operation did not modify their genitals.
The American Civil Liberties Union had sued the state, arguing the rules should not specify what kind of surgery a person must have before updating a birth certificate.
The group says some sex changes don’t involve the genitals for medical or financial reasons. For instance, a woman transferring to a man might choose to have breast-reduction surgery but nothing else, said John Knight, director of the Illinois ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project.
“The state has been requiring surgery that is not needed by many people,” Knight said Monday.
After the ACLU filed its legal challenge, the Department of Public Health changed its policy to eliminate the requirement for genital reconstruction. But the court proceedings continued because the ACLU feared the department could reverse course.
The agreement filed in Cook County Circuit Court would require the Public Health Department to keep the new policy in place, the ACLU said.
The health department declined to comment until a judge approves the settlement.
Illinois has allowed people to change the gender on their birth certificates for nearly 50 years, the ACLU said.