RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Two months ago, a transgender woman called out TSA agents on Twitter after she says she was embarrassed when agents pulled her aside and didn’t know what to do when she told them she was transgender. It’s a situation Robert Phillips says he also had to deal with at the airport.
“That’s very uncomfortable and embarrassing, and it hurt emotionally to do that in front of my co-workers,” Phillips said.
Phillips began transitioning from female to male three years ago, after decades of feeling different. Phillips agrees with efforts to make it easier for transgender people in Virginia to change the gender on their birth certificate. He says it leads to a number of issues when someone transgender is presenting their ID.
“When they see the gender marker and it’s different than who’s presenting it, it causes issues,” said Phillips.
Currently in Virginia, the state requires a person to submit proof of a sex reassignment surgery and get a court order that specifies the gender and name in order to amend a birth certificate. Equality Virginia is asking the state to bypass the court process and directly request the change by going to the health department’s division of vital records. Phillips says making the process easier will help transgender people avoid being outed.
“They don’t want to have to be singled out as someone different. We just want to exist in society,” said Phillips.
Phillips was born in D.C and was able to change his certificate without surgery or a court order. He says Virginia’s laws should start to reflect changing attitudes toward transgender people.
“It’s becoming more accepted and society is becoming more open to that,” said Phillips.