BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 1577
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:  March 25, 2014

                            ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON HEALTH
                                 Richard Pan, Chair
                    AB 1577 (Atkins) - As Amended:  March 19, 2014
           
          SUBJECT  :  Certificates of death: gender identity.

           SUMMARY  :  Requires the person completing a death certificate to  
          record the decedent's sex to reflect the decedent's gender  
          identity as reported by the person or source best qualified to  
          supply this information, unless presented with a legal document  
          that documents the decedent's gender transition.  Specifically,  
           this bill  :  

          1)Requires, when the person controlling the disposition of the  
            remains is in disagreement with the most recently dated  
            document presented, the document providing evidence of the  
            decedent's gender transition will prevail.

          2)Specifies legal documents that can be used to prove a  
            decedent's gender identity include, but are not limited to:  a  
            birth certificate, a driver's license, a court order approving  
            a name or gender change, a passport, an advanced health care  
            directive, or proof of clinical treatment for gender  
            transition.

          3)Specifies a person completing the death certificate is not  
            liable for any damages or costs arising from claims related to  
            the sex of the decedent as entered on the death certificate.

           EXISTING LAW  :  

          1)Requires each death to be registered with the local registrar  
            of births and deaths in the district in which the death was  
            officially pronounced or the body was found within eight  
            calendar days after the death and before the disposition of  
            the remains.

          2)Requires a funeral director to prepare the certificate and  
            register it with the local registrar and to obtain the  
            required information, other than medical and health data, from  
            the person or source best qualified supply this information.

          3)Requires the medical and health section data and the time of  








                                                                  AB 1577
                                                                  Page  2

            death to be completed by the physician and surgeon last in  
            attendance, or in the case of a patient in a skilled nursing  
            or intermediate care facility, by a licensed physician  
            assistant legally authorized to certify and attest to the  
            facts, or in certain cases, to be completed by the county  
            coroner.

          4)Specifies that a certificate of death shall contain certain  
            information concerning the decedent necessary to establish the  
            fact of the death, including but not limited to the decedents  
            full name, sex, color or race, marital status, name of spouse,  
            date of birth and age at death, birthplace, usual residence,  
            and occupation.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  This bill has not been analyzed by a fiscal  
          committee.

           

          COMMENTS  :

           1)PURPOSE OF THIS BILL  .  According to the author, all of the  
            official documents of a transgender person should be  
            consistent with their gender identity.  The author further  
            states that this is part of their right and ability to have  
            authentic lives consistent with who they really are or were.   
            An inconsistent death certificate is particularly problematic  
            because a person has limited control over what happens after  
            they have passed on.
            The author further illustrates the need for the bill with the  
            case of a female to male transgender person and community  
            activist who passed away in December of 2012.  His sex was  
            listed on his death certificate as female because he  
            maintained his female anatomy.  It is not uncommon for a  
            transgender person to retain some physical characteristics of  
            the gender assigned to them at birth, even though they have  
            transitioned to a new gender identity.  According to the  
            National Transgender Taskforce only 23% of transgender women  
            have had vaginoplasty and only 2% of transgender men have had  
            phalloplasty.

           2)BACKGROUND  .  The University of California, Berkeley Gender  
            Equity Resource Center defines transgender in the following  
            manner:  Transgender (sometimes shortened to trans or TG)  
            people are those whose psychological self (gender identity)  








                                                                  AB 1577
                                                                  Page  3

            differs from the social expectations for the physical sex they  
            were born with.  To understand this, one must understand the  
            difference between biological sex, which is one's body  
            (genitals, chromosomes, etc.), and social gender, which refers  
            to levels of masculinity and femininity.  Often, society  
            conflates sex and gender, viewing them as the same thing.  But  
            gender and sex are not the same thing.  Transgender people are  
            those whose psychological self (gender identity) differs from  
            the social expectations for the physical sex they were born  
            with.  For example, a female with a masculine gender identity  
            or who identifies as a man.  
             
             A University of California, Los Angeles Williams Institute  
            study from 2008 estimates that 0.3% of adults are transgender.  


           3)SUPPORT  .  The Transgender Law Center and Equality California,  
            the cosponsors of this bill write in support that current  
            California law governing the completion of death certificates  
            fails to provide sufficient direction to the authorities, such  
            as funeral directors and coroners who are responsible for  
            determining a person's gender designation after death.  In  
            some cases, this lack of clarity has resulted in the issuance  
            of a death certificate that inaccurately reflects a  
            transgender person's gender.  When a transgender person is  
            ascribed the incorrect gender, whether on official documents  
            or in the media, it is disrespectful to the memory of the  
            deceased person and can be deeply painful and stigmatizing to  
            grieving friends, family, and fellow community members.  
             
             The Civil Justice Association of California supports this bill  
            because it grants civil immunity to coroners and funeral home  
            directors when they record the sex of a transgendered person  
            and will allow those professionals to do their jobs without  
            fear of a meritless lawsuit.

           4)OPPOSITION  .  Capitol Resource Family Impact opposes this bill  
            because it would give an acquaintance the legal authority to  
            change the legal gender of a person after death, and they  
            believe if a person chose to not take the legal steps to  
            change his or her gender during his or her lifetime, no  
            individual should have the right to make that change for that  
            person after their death.

           5)PREVIOUS LEGISLATION  .  AB 1121 (Atkins), Chapter 651, Statutes  








                                                                  AB 1577
                                                                  Page  4

            of 2013, creates, as of July 1, 2014, an optional  
            administrative procedure for a transgender person born in  
            California to amend gender and name on his/her birth  
            certificate without first obtaining a court order.
           
          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :  

           Support 

           Equality California (cosponsor)
          Transgender Law Center (cosponsor)
          American Civil Liberties Union of California
          California Communities United Institute
          Civil Justice Association of California
          L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center

           Opposition

           Capitol Resource Family Impact

           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Lara Flynn / HEALTH / (916) 319-2097