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1977 TN Laws Ch. 128 - excerpt

The pertinent portion of the 1977 Tennessee anti-transsexual birth certificate statute

 

For transsexuals, Tennessee law begins and, unfortunately for the time being, ends with an enactment that is unique in American law: a specifically anti-transsexual birth certificate statute. Other states have concocted barriers to recognition of reality via administrative regulation and/or judicial activism, but Tennessee thus far is the only state to pervert a vital statistics law into a swipe at transsexuals. Efforts to rectify this have thus far failed.

Interestingly, even among the genre of transsexual autobiographies, one can find a pair of women whose existence could form the basis for an equal protection challenge to the 1977 law.

Claudine Griggs, S/he: Changing Sex and Changing Clothes (Berg 1997) Aleshia Brevard, The Woman I Was Not Born To Be (Temple Univ. Press 2001)

Both women were born in Tennessee, but Aleshia Brevard was able to conform her birth certificate to post-transition reality prior to 1977. Claudine Griggs was not so lucky.

 

Trans Cases

 

State v. Jackson, 2004 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 468 (Tenn. Crim. App. May 26, 2004), appeal denied, 2004 Tenn. LEXIS 965 (Tenn. Nov. 15, 2004).

Basics

Opinion upholding the conviction of the murderer of a trans person

Opinions

Tennessee Supreme Court

Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals [PDF - Tennessee Courts website]

Trial Court

Briefs

 

Other

 

 

Hines v. State, 2004 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 45 (Tenn. Crim. App. Jan. 23, 2004), remanded, 2004 Tenn. LEXIS 618 (Tenn. June 28, 2004), aff'd on remandb, 2004 Tenn. Crim. App. LEXIS 630 (July 14, 2004), appeal denied, 2004 Tenn. LEXIS 1048 (Tenn. Nov. 29, 2004).

Basics

Not a transsexual case per se, but one in which there was testimony from a female-to-male transsexual.

Opinions

Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals (Jan. 23, 2004) [PDF - Tennessee Courts website]

Briefs

 

Other

 

 

Statutes and Ordinances of Note

The 1977 Anti-Transsexual Birth Certificate Statute

 

Various anti-crossdressing ordinances (all no longer extant so far as I know)

 

Legislative Proposals

2009-10

 

2007-08

 

2005-06

Birth Certificate Statute Rectification Bills:

Anti-Sexual Orientation / Gender Identity Bills

Anti-Gay Adoption / Foster Care Bills

Noteworthy: These do not specifically target transsexuals or any trans people, but note the following language in them:

As used in this section, "homosexual” means any person who voluntarily and knowingly engages in or submits to any sexual contact involving another person of the same gender.

Anti-Civil Union / Domestic Partnership Bills

2003-04

Anti-Civil Union / Domestic Partnership Bills

2001-02

Limitation on Bigotry in Law Enforcement Bills

1999-2000

Hate Crime Bills

1997-98

Anti-Gay Adoption / Foster Care Bills

1995-96

Anti-Gay Marriage Bills

 

 

 

1977-78

The Anti-Transsexual Birth Certificate Statute

Enacted 1977 Ch. 128

[PDF - coming]

Note: Here is one of the instances of me having to 'fess up to an error - in part. On the earlier version of this website, I pointed to a lack of coverage of this bill in The Tennessean. That does appear to be accurate. However, it did not escape the notice of the Nashville Banner.

The vital statistics bill, as introduced, did contain the pro-transsexual provision that one will find in the Model Vital Statistics Act. However, the bill was part of the legislative package of Gov. Ray Blanton, who, midway through his first (and only) term, had rubbed as many people the wrong way as Rod Blagojevich did in Illinois in a term-and-a-half.

State-Line Sex Change

A photo I often use in the classes I teach on trans history and law - thanks to 1977 Tenn. Ch. 128 (as for why, peruse North Carolina's page.)

Owing to Vanderbilt University endorsing gender transition, according to the Banner on Feb. 27:

Blanton thinks its about time the state caught up to the freewheeling times, at least as far as the rather mundane matter of records is concerned.

Uh huh.

Did I mention that Blanton eventually ended up in prison?

No, it nothing to to with the birth certificate bill, but you get the idea of how doomed anything connected to him was going to be - and eventually was.

Here are cites to (some of) the media coverage of the bill:

  • David Spear, "Bill on Transsexuals in Blanton's Package," Nashville Banner, Feb. 26, 1977 at 7.
  • David Spear, "Governor's Vital Records Bill is Hot Potato for Legislators," Nashville Banner, March 17, 1977 at 14.
  • "Blanton Administration Legislation," The Tennessee Journal, Vol. 3, No. 14, April 4, 1977 at 3.

 

Other Relevant Items

It is the opinion of this office that under current Tennessee law the courts of Tennessee could find the reasoning of [In re Ladrach] to be persuasive and hold that sex reassignment surgery would not alter the sex of a person for purposes of marriage. Tennessee law is more clear as to changes on birth certificates than that of Ohio: "The sex of an individual will not be changed on the original certificate of birth as a result of sex surgery." T.C.A. § 68-3-203(d). Thus, the Tennessee court could determine that this state has adopted the sex at birth view. Of course, since marriage is a status subject to legislative authority, the legislature is free to reach a different determination through the enactment of an appropriate law.

Whether this is precluded by the state's anti-same-sex constitutional amendment is up in the air.

What I would like to see argued is that the 1977 law did not act as a rejection of recognition of change of sex per se, but merely as a rejection of the concept of using birth certificates as the vehicle for such recognition (something that actually can be inferred fairly from audio recordings from both 1977 and 2005.)

 

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Suggestions, comments, etc. may be sent to: katrina-rose@uiowa.edu
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Last Updated: Dec. 9, 2009