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Transgender Birth Certificate Bill Called Discriminatory

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Friday, January 29, 2021   

PIERRE, S.D. - Advocates for the transgender community continue to speak out against a bill that would block South Dakotans from changing the sex designation on their birth certificates.

The measure cleared the lower chamber of the Legislature earlier this week, despite being initially rejected by a House committee. Supporters of the bill said it's about maintaining vital records for government business, and is not intended as a form of hate.

But Toni Diamond, vice president of the Black Hills Center for Equality, said it adds to a hostile attitude toward the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer or Questioning community from some state lawmakers.

Diamond is a transgender woman who said her experience shows there's no need for this type of law change.

"I was able to legally change my gender marker on my birth certificate and on all my legal documentation," said Diamond. "And when I go to a doctor appointment, or when I go to fill out an application, my ID shows that I am Toni Diamond - female."

She said the only thing it would do is open the door to discrimination towards younger transgender residents.

Bill sponsor State Rep. Fred Deutsch - R-Florence - has introduced other legislation in recent years that has angered advocates. Transgender bills have surfaced in other states this year, including one in neighboring Montana that bans trans students from playing a school sport.

Even though conservative politics hold heavy weight in South Dakota, Diamond said in Rapid City, she doesn't feel any backlash. She said she feels it's time for lawmakers fearful of change to stop clinging to an old standard, and recognize a changing society.

"What the state is missing out on is people that are willing to contribute to society in all levels," said Diamond. "Be it in government, be it in the school systems, be it just working any kind of 9-to-5 job."

Instead, Diamond said these bills that continue to surface to keep the LGBTQ community in hiding, or wanting to leave South Dakota. Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota has said they will fight the measure in court if it clears the remaining legislative hurdles and is signed into law.


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