Idaho Enacts Unconstitutional Anti-Transgender Law

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March 30, 2020

Idaho Gov. Brad Little today signed into law legislation that bans transgender people from changing the gender marker on their birth certificates, despite a federal court ruling Lambda Legal won two years ago declaring such a policy unconstitutional.

“At each step of the legislative process, from this bill’s introduction in the Idaho House, through the Idaho Senate, and on to the governor’s desk, policymakers were fully aware that they were explicitly flouting a binding federal court order," said Lambda Legal Counsel Peter Renn, a member of the legal team that obtained that court ruling in 2018. "And the court could not have been clearer: this policy was unconstitutional two years ago, and it is still unconstitutional today. Idaho has deliberately set itself on a collision course with the federal courts. It is in open rebellion against the rule of law.”

“While the rest of the world is trying to solve our public health crisis, Idaho has prioritized creating a new public health problem for transgender people," Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Kara Ingelhart added. "Like everyone else, transgender people need accurate identity documents to navigate everyday life, and this gratuitous attack puts them back in harm’s way for harassment and even violence. The people who have been targeted for this astonishing rollback of their basic civil rights can share their experiences with Lambda Legal’s help desk. Everyone has a right to essential identity documents that accurately reflect who they are.”

Lambda Legal filed the original lawsuit in 2017. The lawsuit argued that denying transgender Idahoans the ability to obtain accurate birth certificates discriminates against them and invades their privacy, liberty, and freedom from compelled speech under the U.S. Constitution. For example, after one plaintiff, who is a transgender woman, displayed her birth certificate at a social security office, she was subjected to verbal harassment for being transgender. In March, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho ruled that the birth certificate policy unconstitutionally discriminated against transgender people, and it issued a permanent injunction against state officials.

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. Forty-seven states currently provide a process for transgender people to change the gender marker on their birth certificates.

CLICK HERE to contact Lambda Legal's Help Desk if you are transgender and seeking an accurate birth certificate in Idaho.