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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

Secretary of State will allow people to change gender markers for a small fee

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Last month, Finn Marcks finally received in the mail a brand new passport card with updated gender markers, but he says it wasn’t easy or cheap for him to get his documents updated. 

Before Tuesday, Michigan law required all those who wanted to change their gender markers in legal documents to undergo some sort of surgery which Marcks had when he had a double mastectomy. 

“That’s not even taking into consideration the probably hundreds of dollars in copays for doctors’ appointments and therapy appointments. For me to essentially have letter after letter saying: Finn is trans.”  

Jake Rello who heads the communications office at the Secretary of State says the policy is not a new rule but a return to a previous policy that was in place sixteen years ago. 

“So rather than requiring people to go get a birth certificate change, or a court order or something else this is all they have to do is: come into one of our branch offices, fill out a form, have a photo taken, and pay the $9 or $10 correction fee and they are done.” 

According to Rello, nearly 80% of trans people in Michigan don’t have accurate identification.

“And we know that transgender people in Michigan face discrimination and in many cases violence because of their transgender identity and that inaccurate I.D. can be one of the flags that triggers that discrimination and violence.”

Although the current state policy only allows for male and female markers, Rello says that they are working to update the technology to add other options for people who identify with both or with neither genders. 

Michelle Jokisch Polo, WGVU News  

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