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Transgender birth certificate bill dies in Legislature

Emotional hearing brings lawmaker to tears
A Colorado Senate committee on Monday killed a bill that would have made it easier for transgender people to change the gender on their birth certificates.

DENVER – Colorado Republican state lawmakers on Monday killed this year’s effort to make it easier for transgender people to change the gender marking on their birth certificates.

It was the second time the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee killed the measure in as many years on party-line votes.

Both bills died after receiving support in the Democrat-controlled House.

Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Westminster, who sponsored the bill, was in tears at the end of the hearing, acknowledging that the bill had little chance of earning Republican support.

The process to change gender on birth certificates in Colorado requires sex-reassignment surgery to qualify. The legislation would have included hormone treatment, among other “transitional” options.

Few arguments have been made against the bill in the two years, with most of the testimony coming from supporters. Concerns have been raised, however, about the birth certificate change leading to instances of fraud.

But advocates point to studies that show that transgender people are subject to more harassment and bullying, resulting in high rates of depression and thoughts of suicide.

Ulibarri sobbed over testimony provided by a 10-year-old named Jude, who identified herself as a transgender girl. It was Jude’s birthday on Monday.

“People are people. We all are different and can do anything,” Jude said.

Her testimony brought back painful recollections for Ulibarri of his own past grappling with his sexuality as a gay man. At one point, he had to briefly pause, requesting water as he fought for composure.

For his confirmation name as a child, Ulibarri chose Jude Thaddeus, the “Miraculous Saint,” who is the Catholic patron saint of “lost causes.” He said he contemplated suicide and worried that the committee was sending the wrong message to Jude and others.

“I got a lot of messages from society that I wasn’t valued, that someone like me wasn’t worth life,” Ulibarri said.

Advocates for the bill said the measure was about eliminating barriers so transgender people can accurately reflect their gender. They vowed to continue the fight.

“We’re not here to commit fraud,” said Dane Stephenson, a married transgender man, who added that he can’t afford expensive sex-reassignment surgery. “We just want to make ourselves whole.”

pmarcus@durangoherald.com

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