Illinois is updating its birth certificate system to be more affirming of transgender parents after a trans couple in Chicago welcomed their first child last month.
Myles and Precious Brady-Davis had their daughter, Zayn, in early December but learned the Illinois Department of Public Health’s current birth certificate system automatically lists the parent who gives birth as “Mother/Co-Parent.”
Because Myles Brady-Davis, who is transmasculine and uses they/them pronouns, carried and gave birth to Zayn, they would be misgendered as the mother on her birth certificate. Precious Brady-Davis is a transgender woman and the baby’s mother.
“Growing up, I always wanted to be a dad, so now that I’m a father, it means a lot to me that my child’s identifying document states that,” Myles Brady-Davis said.
Myles Brady-Davis is the communications director for LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Illinois, so they reached out to Lambda Legal for help requesting an accurate birth certificate from the state.
Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health, said Myles and Precious Brady-Davis were the first transgender parents to call this issue to the state’s attention.
She said the department will issue a birth certificate that reflects their gender identities, and the state started working in October to make this a “permanent option easily available to all transgender parents.”
Arnold said the birth certificates will look the same, but the state needs to update its system so that fathers can be listed in the birth parent field.
Precious Brady-Davis said the issue was about affirming their identities as well as “ensuring that we and other trans parents in the future aren’t experiencing harassment, denied benefits or services or assaulted because of our gender identity.”
Kara Ingelhart, a Lambda Legal attorney who helped the Brady-Davis family, said it was a safety issue.
According to a 2015 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality, nearly a third of transgender people said they’ve been harassed, denied benefits or services, discriminated against or assaulted when they showed an identity document with an incorrect name or gender marker.
A birth certificate is usually a person’s primary form of ID until they receive a driver’s license as a teenager, so Myles Brady-Davis would be “outed” as transgender any time it is used for their daughter, Ingelhart said.
“This is a document that any young person uses to enroll in school, join a little league team or maybe start treatment with a new doctor, and Myles and Precious should have the control to decide if, when and how they wish to disclose their trans identity,” Ingelhart said.
As of 2018, Illinois already allows transgender people to correct their gender markers on their own birth certificates with the appropriate medical paperwork. The secretary of state’s office also introduced a new form in September so transgender people could correct their gender markers on state IDs and driver’s licenses without medical paperwork.
Last year, the state also passed a law allowing for gender-neutral markers on state IDs and driver’s licenses, but the option won’t be available until Illinois’ card issuance system technology is updated.
Myles Brady-Davis said they hope their experience will make it easier for other trans parents in the future.
“I know that I’m not the first transmasculine person in the state to go through this process, and I definitely won’t be the last,” they said. “We’re just glad we’re making it easier for the next person.”
Precious Brady-Davis said she hopes people look to them and see that starting families is a possibility for LGBTQ people.
“I hope that our love inspires young people everywhere,” she said. “Our souls and hearts are so full and overjoyed because our love has transformed into a new life.”