Lawmakers advance bill that would allow third gender on birth certificates

The House Committee on Human Services on Wednesday voted unanimously in favor of allowing Vermonters to list their preferred gender —  instead of their biological sex — on their birth certificates.

The bill, H.628, would allow people to change their gender identity with the input of doctors, judges and documentation. It is sponsored by Rep. Taylor Small, P/D-Winooski, the state’s first trans lawmaker. The committed approved the measure by a vote of 11-0 on Wednesday.

The text of the bill states Vermont will formally recognize all types of gender identities:

It is the policy of the State of Vermont to honor and acknowledge all gender identities and protect public health and dignity of all individuals in Vermont, irrespective of their gender. Accordingly, the State should adopt a simple process by which an individual may amend the marker on a birth certificate to reflect the individual’s gender identity.

Rep. Francis McFaun, R-Barre, asked fellow committee members how individuals who might need the data from the original birth certificates might experience confusion. He gave the example of someone who needs their original certificate while claiming inheritance from the will of a deceased family member.

“There was a life that took place before that birth certificate was changed,” McFaun said. “There were a lot of things that may have happened in that life, like maybe someone had a will drawn up, and the name is changed on the birth certificate and the sex. I was wondering how that individual could claim that inheritance?”

Michael Bielawski/TNR

GENDERLESS SOCIETY: Birth certificates in Vermont may soon allow extra genders.

He suggested other scenarios where having multiple versions of a birth certificate might create complications.

“There are police records, there are all kinds of stuff,” he said. “I thought that I was OK on this, but now I wonder.”

Legislative counsel Tucker Anderson advised that such problems are unlikely because the individual in question should always have complete access to his or her own birth certificate, including the pre-modified versions. He also advised that people who request the document would initially receive the most recent version “that reflected the gender change.”

Anderson acknowledged that having different versions of the certificates could have unforeseen complications.

“Where that gets a bit more complicated is, this system is somewhat new and there are quite a few original records that are still kept in places.”

Rep. Carl Rosenquist, R-Georgia, asked about the potential for athletes to misuse a gender change to gain competitive advantage while playing sports against individuals of the opposite biological sex.

“Let’s say I’m a pretty good basketball player but I want to become a better basketball player playing in a female league. Can I go change my self-identification — just get my sex changed through the process that we’ve outlined here? What would prevent me from doing that given this law?” he asked.

Anderson said he did not know the answer.

“I am not immediately aware of a Vermont law that regulates gender-based participation in particular sports. I can only offer from my personal experience as a runner who runs in a lot of competitions. That self-attestation is the basis at least for the United States Track and Field Association meets, and for any of the long-distances races that I have participated in,” he said.

Rep. Small offered to comment on this issue: “We’ve heard this rhetoric across the nation, but there are no specific examples of it that have come up, except for preventing trans youth from playing sports with the gender that they identify and understand themselves as.”

There are examples across the nation of trans athletes causing mismatches in competitive sports.

Lia Thomas, a 22-year-old trans swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania, has been breaking college records, creating a firestorm of controversy related to having biological males compete against biological females. In 2014, a male mixed martial arts fighter who identified as female gave a concussion in addition to multiple broken bones to his biologically female opponent.

In response, many states have advanced legislation to ban trans athletes from competing against people of the opposite biological sex. Also, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. has introduced a bill so that prison inmates must be separated based on their biological sex regardless of their preferred identity.

A lawsuit filed in November by the Women’s Liberation Front against the State of California for allowing transgender inmates to be housed based on their identity revealed that at least one woman claims to have been raped as a result of the policy.

“To pretend that they are female, in language or what we say about them or how we talk about them, goes against the whole basis of the lawsuit,” the organization’s spokesperson Lauren Adams said.

H.628 was placed on the Notice Calendar of the full House of Representatives on Friday. Rep. Small recommended it be amended by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting the newly-approved language, which can be read in full here.

Wednesday’s hearing by the House Committee on Human Services can be viewed online here.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Michael F. Mehnert (cropped) and Michael Bielawski/TNR

15 thoughts on “Lawmakers advance bill that would allow third gender on birth certificates

  1. This is actually dangerous. I’ve read of individuals presenting to the hospital with symptoms which are inexplicable within the context of pretending to be the opposite sex.

  2. What an absurd era we’re living in. People are going to look back on this decade and scratch their heads in disbelief. This is fashion not policy. November is a comin folks. Get these liberal reactionaries out of here while you still can.

  3. Never believed in Boy/Girl cots from either side, it hurts to many innocent’s in the work force, but since they don’t care. (ie) the food shelf issues of “BRANDON”. Perhaps we should play by the progressive play book and start. Perhaps by Boy/Girl cots of the “CONTRIBUTORS “ to these coward, can’t find a job – “need a job -paid for legislators.” On this and many other common sense issues as well. Just look what they’ve done to Burlington and this once proud population of constitutional voters. We feel less pain from inflation if we spend less too!

    • Mike, Burlington ” Queen City ” was the diamond on the hill, in the eighties socialist
      Sanders came to town and it’s been in a downhill spiral ever since !!

      Burlington today, stagnant business, downtown is in turmoil ” Big Dig ” homeless on
      every corner, including ” City Hall Park ” with the City Council is not supporting the
      police department, but wants to promote ” Prostitution ” yup, whores on the corner !!

  4. You either have a Y chromosome or you don’t. What part of this simple TRUTH don’t they understand?

  5. 11-0??? These legislators are the real science denyers. What if my 8 year old wanted to change his birthdate so he’s 18. Then he can drive, smoke butts, buy guns and scratch off tickets and serve his country. Following their precedent, any denial that my son is not 18, but infact 8, is absolute bigotry that cannot be tolerated. What a bunch of d-bags.

  6. There’s Male, Female and Mental instability, we shouldn’t be wasting time on bills around the Mentally
    unstable… ridding this the fascist gun bills and climate scam time wasted we could shorten the
    legislative calendar biggly…

  7. I want my money back. I want all my tax dollars that are going to pay these fools on this committee. They’re wasting the taxpayers’ time and tax money discussing useless, nonsensical, fantasy legislation. If they want to discuss this after working hours at a Montpelier Bar, fine, but just do it on your own time and at your own expense. And if you come up with a legislative application after three or four rounds–keep it to yourselves, because most Vermonters think this is ridiculous beyond reason and that the committee members have lost all their marbles. There are certainly more important issues to be working on…

  8. Our elected officials are about to depart once commonsensical Vermont to enter the “Twilight Zone.”……..Buckle up for a trip on H.628 to a new dimension where boys are girls and girls are boys and cats are dogs and legislators have lost their minds……. This is getting really weird.

  9. A birth certificate is a record of your birth along with your sex at birth. It is not a document that can be changed to a persons preferable desire.
    I’m totally taken away that this legislature is actually even considering such a ridiculous proposal. Shows what our legislature is made of. A bunch of ridiculous fools.

  10. There are only two genders; male and female. they cannot be changed, and anyone who thinks they can or want to change their gender, has a mental problem. Deal with reality, not wishful nut thinking.

  11. So since the start of time, we have had only two “2” Genders, male & female so we can
    reproduce, and that even goes for the animal kingdom !!

    You’ll never see a male ” ovulate ” or a female with a ” prostate ” it’s not going to happen,
    but what you’ll see is a ” woke fool “, with a mental disorder, and the state is falling into
    this madness, they need help, not an identification on a license, they need a psychiatrist.

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