Christopher Lee. Lee, 48, committed suicide in December 2012. Lee’s death certificate said female on it. Because this offended transgender people, the Transgender Law Center and Equality California, a gay rights group, pushed for new legislation in the state capitol this year. The “Respect After Death Act”, introduced by Assemblymember Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), requires that individuals completing a death certificate record the decedent’s sex to reflect his or her gender identity, not simply sexual anatomy.
The bill, AB 1577, passed a health committee vote and awaits a May hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. It specifies legal documents that officials should defer to when determining gender on a death certificate. These documents include a birth certificate, a court order approving a name or gender change, a passport, proof of clinical treatment for gender transition, and a valid driver’s license. In the event of a conflict, such documents would trump preferences of next-of-kin.