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Court orders Idaho to issue accurate birth certificates to transgender people

A U.S. District Court judge ordered Idaho state officials to allow transgender people born in Idaho to apply to correct the gender markers on their State of Idaho birth certificates. Federal Judge Candy Dale ruled in favor of two transgender Idaho women who claimed that the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s policy of automatic rejection violated their constitutional rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit last spring arguing 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.

“Idaho’s policy was not only archaic and out-of-step with the rest of America but also dangerous,” said Kara Ingelhart, a Lambda Legal law fellow. “Early in this lawsuit, state officials recognized that their current policy was indefensible. Forcing transgender Idahoans to go through life with inaccurate birth certificates, a basic form of identification, unnecessarily exposed them to discrimination, harassment, and violence.”

The court ruled an effective date of April 6 to allow transgender people born in Idaho to apply to correct the gender markers on their State of Idaho birth certificates. The judge also stipulated that altered birth certificates will not include a record of those changes. Judge Dale argued that provision would spare transgender individuals from having to disclose or discuss their trans identities — and potentially protect them from violence.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean all those applications for change will be granted. According to the court, “such applications must be reviewed and considered through a constitutionally-sound approval process.”

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