Target: Governor of California Jerry Brown
Goal: Applaud new law that respects trans identities after death
Countless transgender people face discrimination, harassment and mis-gendering every day. From being referred to in the media as their former selves, to even having their identities ignored at death, trans rights for the living, and the deceased, are an increasingly weighty issue. However, California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a bill into law ensuring that transgender individuals are appropriately identified on their death certificates, establishing dignity even after the loss of life.
The Respect After Death Act states that any official responsible for completing a transgender person’s death certificate is responsible for representing the deceased’s gender expression, as they appear on government-issued documents or evidence by medical procedures.
Following the mis-gendering of a transgender artist and LGBT advocate from San Francisco, Christopher Lee, in 2012, California Gov. Jerry Brown was inspired to help protect the rightful identities of transgender people, even after they have passed away. Thus, the Respect After Death Act was created.
Issues surrounding trans people’s dignity after death has received more attention in recent years, as mis-gendering trans identities has risen. Recently, a transgender woman, Jennifer Gable, born Geoffrey Gable, was buried “as a man” and even referred to as male in her obituary, despite legally changing her name and publicly identifying as a woman for many years before her untimely death at age 32. Gable was buried in a men’s suit and her family even had her hair cut short. When friends attended the open casket funeral, they were outraged. Human Rights Campaign board member, Meghan Stabler, told a Florida news outlet: “[There was] no mention of the woman she knew she was and had lived as for several years…[it’s] just an erosion of her identity.”
Although the law currently protects transgender Californians, its establishment, coupled with stories like Gable’s, illustrates why transgender people need protection and representation, even at death, and proves that there are lawmakers who are dedicated to preserving the rights of deceased trans people.
Sign the petition to thank California Governor Jerry Brown for signing this groundbreaking act into law.
Dear Governor Jerry Brown,
It has recently come to my attention that you have created a law that protects the rights and identities of transgender people after death. The Respect After Death Act is a revolutionary legislation that deserves to be praised.
Countless trans men and women have their rightful identities stripped from them, as prejudiced family members and friends refuse to remember them as their authentic, albeit trans, selves. To rob an individual of their true self, even in death, is a callous crime.
Your bill forces individuals to respect the trans identities of the deceased, and I thoroughly applaud your motivation and signage of the Respect After Death Act into law. You have truly inspired other lawmakers to recognize that discrimination can happen, even to those who are no longer with us.
Thank you for your efforts.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: AnonMoos via Wikimedia Commons