HB 446: Senate to Vote on “Neither Male nor Female” Option on Birth Certificates

New Hampshire birth certificate heading

The New Hampshire Senate is expected to vote on May 15, 2019 on HB 446, relative to initiating amendments and corrections to birth records. The bill would allow a vital record, namely a birth certificate, to be changed to reflect a person’s adopted “gender identity,” whether male, female, or “neither male nor female.”

A Senate committee has proposed an amendment the House version of the bill, but the amendment would not correct the bill’s fundamental flaw: the purpose of vital records is not to affirm one’s inner feelings or beliefs regarding one’s own age, sex, or place of birth. Facts, unlike political decisions or personal opinions, don’t discriminate. Birth certificates, death certificates, and other vital records are intended to document facts.

Vital records are not about gender politics or personal feelings. Cornerstone urges the Senate to remember that, and to vote inexpedient to legislate on HB 446.

From the proposed Senate amendment to HB 446, with emphasis added:

If an individual requests a birth record reflecting a gender designation other than that which was assigned at birth, a new birth record shall be prepared to reflect a change in the individual’s gender upon receipt of a notarized certification affirming the individual’s gender designation by a licensed and qualified health care provider.

(a) The notarized certification shall be signed by a licensed and qualified health care provider under the penalty of RSA 5-C:14. It shall provide that the named individual is currently or was previously under the signing health care provider’s care, and that in the health care provider’s professional opinion the individual’s gender is (1) male, (2) female, or (3) neither male nor female, and can be reasonably expected to continue as such for the foreseeable future.

 (b) The application shall be signed by the applicant under the penalty of RSA 5-C:14.This signature shall certify that the request for change of gender is for the purpose of ensuring that the applicant’s birth record accurately reflects the applicant’s gender, and that the request is not for any fraudulent or unlawful purpose. If the applicant is a minor who is at least 14 years of age but less than 18 years of age, the application shall be signed by the applicant and by each parent listed on the minor’s birth certificate or the minor’s legal guardian. If a parent listed on the birth certificate cannot be found, the applicant also shall submit a certified copy of a court order stating that the consent of only one parent is required. If a parent is deceased, a certified copy of the death certificate shall be submitted with the application.

(c) The individual shall surrender any prior birth record issued by the state of New Hampshire in the individual’s possession. The original birth record shall be retained by the city or  town of birth. The city or town clerk shall submit the individual’s application, the health care provider’s certification, and a certified copy of the original birth record to the state registrar for review. Upon approval by the state registrar, the city or town clerk shall issue a new birth record with a marginal note indicating that the record has been amended in accordance with this paragraph. The birth records shall reflect the gender as male, female, or neither.

(d) The fee to amend a birth record pursuant to this paragraph shall be the same as the fee to amend a birth record pursuant to RSA 5-C:10, III. Any subsequent amendment to the birth record regarding gender designation shall require a court order.

(e) In this paragraph, “licensed and qualified health care provider” means a treating and licensed physician, physician assistant, psychologist, advanced practice registered nurse, clinical social worker, or clinical mental health counselor.

This act shall take effect January 1, 2020.