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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Transgender Identity Document Bill On Way To Oregon Governor's Desk

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network

Oregon lawmakers have signed off on a bill that would make it easier for transgender people to change their identity on state government documents like a drivers license or birth certificate.

The Senate voted 23-6 Wednesday to approve the bill, which now heads to the governor's desk.

Democratic Sen. Arnie Roblan said the bill would remove barriers for transgender people.

"It's been a passion of mine to treat all people the way they feel they need to be treated. It's not mine to make that decision for them,” Roblan said. “And so this bill is one of those things that starts allowing people to make some of those choices in our state."

The current process to change gender identity on government documents involves a court hearing and posting a notice in a public place. Supporters of the bill say the new process will be less intimidating. They say having accurate documents helps transgender people get a job, housing or access medical care. ??

“Many transgender Oregonians fear being publicly outed by having sensitive medical and personal information disclosed in open court and name changes posted on a public bulletin board,” said Nancy Haque, Co-Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon.

?Only one senator spoke against the measure during a brief floor debate. Sen. Dennis Linthicum, R-Klamath Falls, said that amending a birth certificate akin to "going back in time and changing an event that happened in history." He said it reminded him of George Orwell's novel "1984."