Three transgender Puerto Ricans win suit to change gender markers

Three transgender Puerto Ricans win suit to change gender markers
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Transgender Puerto Ricans may now legally correct their birth certificates to match their gender identity.

The policy change, which came into effect earlier this month, follows a federal lawsuit brought by three individuals and an LGBT rights group.

Judge Carmen Consuelo Cerezo signed the order earlier this month, according to NBC Miami.

“The right to identify our own existence lies at the heart of one’s humanity,” Cerezo wrote in the decision. “And so, we must heed their voices: 'the woman that I am,' 'the man that I am.'"

The legal fight for transgender individuals to be able to change their birth certificate gender marker to align with their gender identity has been ongoing for more than a decade in Puerto Rico. A 2005 lawsuit brought by a transgender woman to have her birth certificate modified was denied.

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Daniela Arroyo-González, a transgender teenager who is one of the three individuals who brought the recent lawsuit, told NBC that she faced discrimination in school and when seeking medical treatment, and that she felt “great responsibility” to be part of the legal fight.

“Puerto Rico is now a more free and inclusive country, one that brings hope to future generations who will not have to deal with these complications,” she told NBC in a Spanish-language interview. “It will open doors and make our community visible with dignity.”

Omar González Pagan, an attorney for Lambda Legal, the group that filed the lawsuit, told NBC that the ruling was a “vital step” against discrimination

“Years ago Puerto Rico did not have the political capacity for this change. It was one of the jurisdictions that prohibited the change,” said González Pagan. “The State finally recognizes the identity of transgender people born in Puerto Rico which is a vital step against the discrimination of this community. They are finally respecting their identity and dignity.” 

Three states in the U.S. – Kansas, Ohio and Tennessee – do not currently allow transgender people to modify their birth certificates, and some other states require a doctor’s letter, a court order or proof of surgery, according to NBC.