FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, May 26th
MD Spicer-Sitzes, Communications Manager, Equality Ohio
Equality Ohio, in partnership with Equitas Health, Living With Change, OCTOPUS LLC, and TransOhio, will be working to assist those who want help changing their birth certificate to reflect their gender.
COLUMBUS, OHIO – On Wednesday, ACLU Ohio released an important FAQ specifically designed to help those who seek to change their birth certificate gender marker. The change, initiated by the Department of Health in May, set in motion by a lawsuit filed by ACLU of Ohio, ACLU National, and Lambda Legal on behalf of four transgender people born in Ohio challenging Ohio’s refusal to allow gender marker changes on Ohio birth certificates.
“Having a birth certificate that matches your gender identity is imperative for moving about society safely and with dignity,” said Alana Jochum, Executive Director of Equality Ohio. “We applaud the plaintiffs and legal team that brought about this important change for LGBTQ+ Ohioans, and along with our partners, we are ready to help Ohioans update their documents.”
In a collaborative partnership among Equality Ohio, Equitas Health, Living With Change, OCTOPUS LLC, and TransOhio, there are statewide virtual Name & Gender Marker Change Legal Clinics held the 2nd Wednesday of every month. The Name & Gender Marker Change Legal Clinics were founded in 2016, when local ally C. Benjamin Cooper, of the Columbus law firm Cooper Elliott, brought a proposal to TransOhio to help trans folks in Central Ohio, and eventually statewide, with their legal name changes.
Here is what partners had to say about this victory:
“Predating my 2017 founding of OCTOPUS LLC, I have been consistently working with clients. I thank ACLU of Ohio, the plaintiffs, and all who made this long awaited gender marker birth certificate change possible.” said Kimberly Sue Griffiths, Executive Director of OCTOPUS LLC. “Love to my trans, queer and nonbinary siblings as we all break down a major barrier to documenting our authenticity.”
“It’s been a long wait, but the process is finally here,” said James Knapp, Chair of TransOhio. “TransOhio is ready for all transgender and nonbinary people born in Ohio to have the opportunty to change their birth certificates to reflect their current and true gender.”
“At last, we have a means to help folks see themselves reflected in every document”, says Oliver Licking, Legal Clinic Coordinator for Equitas Health. “The dignity this change in Ohio offers cannot be understated. Equitas Health cannot wait to keep on helping folks get birth certificates, or any other identity document to accurately reflect them.”
Individuals requiring assistance with legal name, and now gender marker changes, will be able to seek assistance from trained volunteer attorneys. This month, on June 26th, there will be a specific virtual clinic addressing questions about gender marker changes on Ohio birth certificates.
For those who need further legal assistance, Equality Ohio’s Legal Team will be poised to act on intake forms starting June 1st. Legal Clinic intake forms can be filled out at any time before or after June 1st, and are available to any LGBTQ+ identified Ohioan whose income is within 300% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. Additionally, funding support for associated fees is possible for eligible individuals through Living With Change.
“Living With Change recognized that the court fees involved in the gender marker change program can be financially difficult for some transgender youth and their families,” said Jessica Cicchinelli, cofounder, Living With Change. “This led Living With Change to partner with Equality Ohio, Equitas Health,TransOhio and OCTOPUS LLC and their great legal clinic programs to financially support trans youth and their families.”
Most states permit transgender and nonbinary people to change the gender marker on their birth certificate, although the process to do so varies depending on the state, and can be arduous. Ohio is one of the last states to do so. The new FAQ Form from ACLU Ohio, alongside legal support will help interested Ohioans learn more about the process, and better understand how to streamline it.
“We know that accurate gender markers on state issued documents in Ohio, including birth certificates, generates a truer representation of identity and of equality,” said Maya Simek, Legal Director at Equality Ohio. “Today, ACLU Ohio has released a critical resource to support the health, safety, and equality of LGBTQ+ people whose gender identity does not yet match their birth certificate. We look forward to supporting those who would like to make a marker change.”
Equality Ohio identifies and transforms systems and institutions so LGBTQ+ Ohioans can fully access legal and lived equality.
Equitas Health is a regional nonprofit community healthcare system. Our mission is to be the gateway to good health for those at risk of or affected by HIV, for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ+) community, and for those seeking a welcoming healthcare home.
Living With Change (LWC) is an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works in support of transgender youth and their families in their living with change journey. In partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, a nonprofit academic medical center that is one of the U.S.’s oldest and most distinguished pediatric hospitals, LWC supports the Living With Change Center for Gender Health. Visit www.livingwithchange.org or contact Casey Barach at [email protected]
OCTOPUS LLC: OCTOPUS stands for: Organizing Communities Transgender Outreach Promoting United Support. This LLC is a transgender community support organization for the purpose of improving the lives and welfare of people who identify as transgender and gender nonconforming. Organizing plans include: networking, improved resource accessibility, outreach to underserved communities, promoting applicable services and support groups, education, and all activities perceived appropriate to carry out these goals. [email protected].
TransOhio serves the Ohio trans and ally communities by providing services, education, support, and advocacy, which promotes and improves the health, safety, and life experience of the Ohio transgender individual and community. https://transohio.org