The Gender Inclusive Documents and Forms Ordinancea new regulation that, in many instances, eliminates requirements that Cook County residents identify their sex assigned at birth on county formsunanimously passed a vote by the Cook County Board of Commissioners on June 25.
The ordinance was sponsored by openly gay County Commissioner Kevin Morrison, who told Windy City Times that it was a response to "persistent attacks from the right against transgender individuals [through] state legislators and multiple [legislative] bodies across the country."
Morrison added, "It is incredibly important for elected officials to be representative of their entire constituency. Every single elected official has transgender, nonbinary and gender non-conforming individuals that they represent."
He further called the ordinance "a necessary move that my office and I have been working on for quite some time."
The ordinance essentially strips off requirements that a resident identify their sex on a county form unless it is pertinent for medical reasons or data collection, or otherwise required by law. It also allows a resident to simply state the gender-identity by which they identify, unless, again, their gender-identity assigned at birth is additionally necessary for medical, legal or data purposes. Gender-neutral titles as well pronoun identifiers would be included on county forms.
"If you identify as non-binary or transgender, having the option that affirms your identity when you're interacting with county government is critical, and most people who are cisgender never realize what they are taking for granted," said Morrison.
He recalled that, when Cook County began facilitating COVID-19 vaccinations, signup forms asked about sex assigned at birth. A constituent reached out to him to ask why that information was needed. In that case, there was a medical reasoning behind the question; nevertheless, county forms will now explain specifically why such information is asked for, Morrison said.
"It's been exciting hearing all the positive feedback that I got in from the community and from allies concerning this policy change," he added. "The fact that we are taking steps to affirm the transgender community in Cook County is making a difference."