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

<p>Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signs an executive order in her ceremonial office Thursday.</p>

Chris Lehman

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Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signs an executive order in her ceremonial office Thursday.

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 Gov. Kate Brown's desk.

Sen. Arnie Roblan, D-Coos Bay, said the bill would remove unnecessary 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," he 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 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."

Copyright 2017 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.