On Tuesday, March 26, The Respect After Death Act (AB 1577), authored by Assembly Speaker-elect Toni Atkins and sponsored by Transgender Law Center and Equality California, passed the Assembly Health Committee today by a bipartisan provisional vote of 17-1. The bill is designed to help ensure transgender people have their authentic gender identity reflected on their death certificates. (Click here to read more about the bill.)
In part inspired by the experiences of Christopher Lee’s adopted family, the Scott-Chungs, to have his proper gender identity recognized on his death certificate, Chino Scott-Chung testified in Christopher Lee’s name, while Luna, Grandma Teresa and the Chungs’ new buddy, Sasha Buchert from Transgender Law Center, drove to Sacramento together. Here’s Chino’s testimony! Join us in telling your stories…
My name is Chino Scott-Chung and I identify as transgender. I am testifying in support of AB 1577, the Respect After Death Act in the name of my brother and best friend, Christopher Lee.
Christopher was a lovely, generous, beautiful man who would drop everything to help a friend. For my 50th birthday he stayed up all night rebuilding my front porch to surprise me in the morning. He was the best man at my wedding. He was at our home for his last Thanksgiving feast.
Christopher was a visionary trailblazer, artist and activist. He co-founded the Transgender Film Festival in 1997, which continues to this day. He was elected as the first openly transgender man to be Grand Marshall in the 2002 Gay Pride Parade.
In December of 2012 we lost Christopher. He was 48 years old. We gave the coroner several identity documents and told them he was a transgender man. Later, when I went to pick up his ashes and death certificate, I was shocked to discover he was listed as female on his death certificate.
Christopher lived his life in all ways as a man and he changed his drivers license and passport to reflect this. Listing him as female on his death certificate is disrespectful to his memory and legacy. It is deeply painful to me, to his chosen family and the communities he was so much a part of.
Christopher left an indelible mark on all who met him. We hope that his legacy lives on through passing AB 1577, the Respect After Death Act. This Act will provide clarity to the authorities responsible for completing death certificates and will ensure that all transgender people are respected after death by honoring his or her authentic gender identity.
Posted by Shivaun Nestor for Maya Scott-Chung