SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Governor J.B. Pritzker has signed a bill into law that removes barriers for transgender Illinoisans looking to change the gender on their birth certificate.

Previously, the Vital Records Act required a statement from a licensed health care or mental health professional in order to create a new certificate with a different gender than the one assigned to them at birth. Now they only need to sign a statement affirming their gender identity.

Pritzker signed the law Friday.

“Here in Illinois, we recognize that gender transition is a personal journey that doesn’t always follow a prescriptive medical path, but still deserves to be honored legally,” he said. “In a time of increasing violence and hateful rhetoric against the trans, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming community, it is more important than ever to reaffirm our state’s commitment to recognizing the rights and dignity of LGBTQ+ Illinoisans.”

Many advocates argue that some transgender Illinoisans will forego surgery or other gender-affirming medical care for financial or personal reasons. They believe this law will make it easier for their legal documents to match their identities.

“This legislation will now make it easier for trans and nonbinary people to live as their authentic selves and ensure consistency on legal documents,” Sen. Laura Fine (D-Glenview), the sponsor of the bill in the state senate, said.    

Advocates say finding a doctor for was often difficult, especially in some parts of Illinois.

“By allowing Illinois residents to change their legal documents to affirm themselves, transgender Illinoisans will no longer be barred by medical gatekeeping,” Benito Goff, a youth programming coordinator at the Rainbow Café LGBTQ Center in Carbondale, said. “In rural areas like Southern Illinois, finding a mental health or healthcare provider competent in LGBTQIA+ issues are challenging, in addition to other compacting factors such as poverty.”

The bill also allows fee vouchers for printing new birth certificates for people on parole or mandatory supervised release by IDOC or Department of Juvenile Justice, homeless people, and people under the age of 27 previously in DCFS care.

The law will go into effect July 1st.