Transgender Coloradans Can Now Update Birth Certificates Without Surgery

Colorado is just the third state in the nation to offer nonbinary options on both IDs and birth certificates.

A new year brings one of the most progressive ID laws to the Centennial State. As of January 1, transgender, nonbinary, and intersex Coloradans can update their state-issued IDs and birth certificates without court orders or surgery.

Colorado is just the third state in the nation after California and Oregon to offer nonbinary options on both IDs and birth certificates. Jude’s Law, named after a 13-year-old transgender student, lets residents update their documents according to self-identification, which advocates say is critical to removing barriers to access updated documents.

LGBTQ Caucus Senator Dominick Moreno said that the new law moves the state toward a future where everyone can be themselves.

“For too long, transgender Coloradans have faced discriminatory red tape that makes it unnecessarily challenging to live openly as their true selves,” Moreno said in a statement. “I am proud that today we passed Jude’s Law, my bill to make it easier for transgender Coloradans to update identity documents without having to undergo surgery or appear in court.”

Coloradans can now request gender markers M, F, or X on their IDs and birth certificates. It also allows trans and nonbinary people to change their names without publishing notice before, a holdover requirement in many states long used to prevent fraud. Youth still need a parental sign-off, while adults will need a signature from a medical or mental-health provider affirming that their gender designation should be changed.

LGBTQ advocates have long argued red tape around document updates can have life or death consequences for transgender people. Research shows that transgender people face substantial hurdles in updating their documents, which can prevent many from voting, accessing medical care, getting a job, and traveling. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that just 11% of trans people had updated all of their documents to match their preferred name and gender, while 68% hadn’t updated any of their IDs at all.

Jude’s law passed year and was signed into law by Governor Jared Polis on May 31, a gesture intended to kick off pride month in June. Polis is the nation’s first openly gay governor.

More on obtaining the new documents is available at statewide LGBTQ organization One Colorado.

Kate Sosin is an award-winning, trans-identified news and investigative reporter.