Idaho House Passes Bill Banning Trans People from Correcting Gender on Birth Certificates

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February 27, 2020

The Idaho House of Representatives today passed a bill that would ban transgender people from changing the sex listed on their birth certificates despite a federal court ruling two years ago declaring such a ban unconstitutional. Lambda Legal brought the lawsuit that resulted in that ruling.

“This is a shocking development that, if enacted into law, would willfully defy a final federal court order, subject state officials to being held in contempt of court, and expose taxpayers to footing the bill for significant financial sanctions—all while putting transgender people back in harm’s way for harassment and even violence, and once again making Idaho a national outlier," said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Kara Ingelhart. “Essential identity documents should accurately reflect who you are, and the court two years ago recognized that the government cannot rob transgender people of this basic tool to navigate through life. It defies belief that Idaho legislators would seek to resurrect this archaic and frankly dangerous law.”

Lambda Legal filed the original lawsuit in the Spring of 2017 on behalf of two transgender women, F.V., currently a resident of Hawai`i identified only by her initials, and Dani Martin, who lives in Idaho. The lawsuit argued that denying transgender Idahoans the ability to obtain accurate birth certificates discriminates against them and invades their right to privacy, equal protection under the law, and freedom from compelled speech as protected under the U.S. Constitution.

For example, after F.V. displayed her birth certificate at a social security office, the employee referred to her using the slur “tr*nny,” and someone who overheard the comment called her a “faggot.”  Ms. Martin similarly had to argue with an Idaho DMV employee that she was a woman, and entitled to be treated as such, despite the fact that her birth certificate failed to reflect her gender identity.

In March, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho ruled that the birth certificate policy unconstitutionally discriminated against transgender people.

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 people also are disproportionately targeted for hate crimes.