Lambda Legal Sues Over Idaho's Anti-Trans Birth Certificate Policy

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April 18, 2017

Lambda Legal today filed a federal lawsuit challenging the State of Idaho’s refusal to allow transgender people to correct the gender on their birth certificates.

“Unlike nearly every other state in America, Idaho currently enforces a categorical ban against transgender people changing the gender on their birth certificates, which is an archaic policy that defies logic,” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn said. “In fact, government officials in Idaho know this, given that they allow transgender people to change the gender on their drivers’ licenses.”

Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho on behalf of F.V., a transgender woman identified only by her initials.

The lawsuit argues that denying transgender Idahoans the ability to obtain accurate birth certificates discriminates against them and invades their liberty under the U.S. Constitution. In addition, the lawsuit argues that forcing transgender Idahoans through their birth certificates to identify with a gender that is not who they are violates their right to free speech under the First Amendment.

“This policy is not only archaic and out-of-step with the rest of America but also dangerous. Forcing transgender Idahoans to go through life with inaccurate birth certificates, a basic form of identification, unnecessarily exposes them to discrimination, harassment, and violence. It also denies them their very identity.” Renn said. “Identity documents communicate to the world who you are. No one should have to represent that they are someone they are not.”

According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, almost one-third of transgender individuals who showed an identity document with a name or gender marker that conflicted with their perceived gender were harassed, denied benefits or services, discriminated against, or assaulted. Transgender individuals also are disproportionately targeted for hate crimes.

“I just want a birth certificate that accurately reflects who I am,” said F.V., now 28 years old and living in Hawai`i. “I hope that Idaho will give me the dignity of deciding when complete strangers get to know deeply private information about my life. Like so many transgender people, I’ve been on the receiving end of harassment and outright violence. It costs Idaho nothing to correct this piece of paper and recognize me as the woman that I am."