What is the legal reasoning behind allowing trans people to be issued with a new birth certificate, whilst non-trans people are not able to? Surely the law is above inequality.
Many others have given great answers to this question, so I’m not going to repeat their answers. Instead, I’m going to point out another aspect which is at the core of this:
Transgender people need to be able to update their birth certificates with their chosen names and experienced gender because other people are so frequently jerks to transgender people solely on the basis of them being transgender.
Think about it. Why might a cisgender (non-transgender person) want to update their birth certificate? If they get married, their last name might change. Or perhaps they change their first and/or middle names. What is the consequence of them not changing their birth certificate? If someone sees a birth certificate for a woman whose last name is different than what’s on the certificate, they typically assume that she changed it when she got married. There’s no consequence or stigma attached to that. If a man changes his first name from Robert to Steven, he provides a court order and people accept that there’s a reason he changed just first name — again, no consequence or stigma.
But if a transgender person provides a birth certificate showing both a name and gender not aligning with how they are presenting, they face stigma. And they face very real consequences – job loss, eviction, assault, and even murder!
Trans people need birth certificates updated because this world remains largely hostile to their existence, and since we haven’t made much progress in removing the hostility, we need to reduce the opportunity for stigma to be attached to transgender people.
Plus, once you really understand what being transgender is about, you understand that we are born the way we are. While my birth certificate was originally issued with a strongly masculine name and an “M” for my gender, I was born a woman. I deserve the opportunity to correct the mistake that was made when people made assumptions based solely on my genitalia.
The only kinds of approval I seek are insurance pre-authorization and claim approvals. Who and what I am is not dependent upon anyone else’s opinions, and I certainly do not require anyone’s approval to be the person I truly am.
What would be nice, however, is if other people were more accepting, more supportive, and more affirming of who and what I am. So many people feel empowered to say things and take actions which affect me, based solely on their assessment of whether and how well I conform to their expectations. There is no shortage of people who, without invitation, will tell me and my loved ones how we should be living our lives. These same people would have never dared to do so before I came out as a transgender woman, so what gives them the sense that they need to do so now that I’ve come out? I can only conclude that these people feel privileged enough (in other words, that they are somehow better than or more valid/valuable than I am) that their opinions now should carry more weight.
Hint: nothing really changed – I’m just as valid and valuable as I was before; what’s changed is that they are now showing their true colors.