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Esteves pushing for gender identification legislation's passage in final session

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Sen.s are scheduled to met on Monday to set the agenda for their December session, in what will likely be the last chance this term to get their bills passed.  Outgoing Sen. Fernando Esteves says he's been trying hard to push through important legislation for the LGBTQ community, which may be the final accomplishment of his first and only term.

The freshman, minority senator is the sponsor of a bill that allows transgender individuals to legally change their birth certificates to the gender they identify with, even without undergoing a sex change. Esteves says he's failed twice to get it on the session agenda, but is hoping a third time will be the charm, telling KUAM News, "We're just hoping that we get it on the session floor and vote on it at the end of the day."

Current law requires a sworn statement by a surgeon certifying that the sex of an individual has been changed by surgical procedure in order for the birth certificate to be changed. But Esteves says many transgender individuals cannot afford the expensive surgery.

"What Bill 291 does is allow them to go through a process through the courts, same way they would do with any legal process, where they would make sure there's some kind of justification to it, they're not trying to run and hide," he explained. "There's no mischievous or malevolent purpose to them trying to do it, and then they would go through the process for the legal change on their gender status and it would adjust the source document which is the birth certificate."

He says its common in many states, and it's important for the government to recognize the individuals for who they are, and give them that dignity.  He says the LGBTQ community continues to suffer from discrimination, and case in point, a lawmaker from the FSM recently introduced legislation to ban transgender people from working for the national government.

"They're an independent country and they're able to do what they want," detailed Esteves. "But my personal opinion on the matter, I do think its legal discrimination. It's very sad to see that happening within our region. We do need to be talking about these things. We can't hide it. We just need to move forward and discuss it."

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