Publication Date

Winter 2019


The central argument of this note is that transgender people, particularly non-operative transsexual people, have the constitutional right to amend their birth certificates to reflect their accurate gender identity. In addition, this note argues that Pavan v. Smith—holding that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to be listed on their child’s birth certificate—will eventually advance the invalidation of inconsistent and antiquated gender marker laws across the country. Part I provides an overview of transgender-specific vocabulary that is used throughout this note. Part II expounds the importance of legally recognizing transgender identities. Part III discusses the U.S. Supreme Court’s LGBTQ jurisprudence, including the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision and the more recent Pavan v. Smith decision. Part IV argues that transgender people have the constitutional right to amend their birth certificates under the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause. This Part explains that the constitutional right of amended identity documents will help resolve inconsistencies in how different jurisdictions legally recognize transgender people on their identity documents. Finally, this Part shows that public policy strongly supports allowing transgender people to amend their identity documents; it allows transgender people to enjoy a better quality of life and to have equal access to public accommodations. Part V concludes that a court should find that a transgender person has the constitutional right to amended identity documents, so that this country can advance towards recognizing and validating transgender lives.


I want to thank all of the editors and staffers of the CUNY Law Review for editing my note, especially Malita Picasso for recognizing my voice and taking a chance on me. I would like to thank my Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program family for your constant support and encouragement throughout this process. Thank you Chasity Boyce and Tiffany Harper. I would also like to thank my support system at DePaul Law for encouraging me throughout this process, as well. I especially want to thank my friend and colleague Amanda Insalaco for her genuine support and critique of my work throughout the entire editing process. Additional thanks to Professor Terry Smith, Diamond Smith, Terrie Sullivan and Veronica Rodriguez for their feedback and support. Finally, I would like to thank the transgender community who I represent and fight for every day. We are resilient, we are visible, and we cannot be stopped from walking in our greatness.

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