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A State of Confusion

By Kevin Robinson in News on Apr 19, 2007 2:30PM

2007_4_state_capitol.jpgWhile change may have come through Chicago Tuesday, a tragic spectacle of how far we still have to go as a society was playing out in Springfield. State Representative Sara Feigenholtz (12th) sponsored HB1732, which would have made it easier for Illinois residents to change the gender listed on their birth certificate. Illinois law currently allows birth certificates to be changed with an affidavit from the doctor who performed the procedure. Affidavits from foreign doctors, however, are not recognized, or by people who have undergone permanent sex reassignment through non-surgical means. HB1732 would have amended the Vital Records Act, providing that "the State Registrar of Vital Records shall establish a new certificate of birth when he or she receives an affidavit by a physician that a person has undergone medical treatment and that by reason of the medical treatment the sex designation on such person's birth record should be changed."

Feigenholtz told NBC5 news that some people cannot undergo surgery but can have their gender permanently changed through other treatments. The amendment was defeated 32-78.

As part of the "debate" that ensued over this bill, lawmakers openly mocked transsexual people on the House floor. State Representative (and Deputy Republican Leader) Bill Black (104th) said "maybe you went somewhere and a voodoo doctor said you were now a man, where you had been a woman.... I've often thought that perhaps I was a female trapped in a male body. I know — it scares me, too.... I wish I didn't have to shave every day." Chicago Democrat State Representative Art Turner (9th), who voted for the measure and was presiding over the chamber at the time of the vote asked the legislative body "have all voted who wish?", in a falsetto voice.

Coming to grips with gender identity disorder, a condition recognized and diagnosable per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is difficult enough without state-sanctioned bigotry. For public officials to mock and demean a group of people with a medically recognized condition (as well as a personal right to live their own lives as they see fit) doesn't speak well of those elected officials. And what about Art Turner? He has the guts to vote for the bill, but can't stand up for what he claims to believe in front of his peers? Hardly an example of public trust. Is it too much to ask that a difficult issue be treated with dignity and respect by a group of adults that have put themselves forward to lead the community, even if they disagree? We're afraid that it may be.