Metro Weekly

Transgender woman sues Idaho over refusal to amend gender marker

"I just want a birth certificate that accurately reflects who I am."

Photo: State of Hawaii, via Wikimedia.

A woman is suing the state of Idaho over its refusal to allow transgender people to amend the gender on their birth certificates.

Idaho is one of only four states that refuses to amend gender designations on birth certificates, even if a person has undergone treatment for gender dysphoria or undergone transition-related surgery. Only Kansas, Ohio, and Tennessee have similar prohibitions in place. 

“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,” Peter Renn, Lambda Legal’s senior attorney, said in a statement. “In fact, government officials in Idaho know this, given that they allow transgender people to change the gender on their drivers’ licenses.”

The complaint — filed by Lambda Legal on behalf of the trans woman, known as F.V. — argues that Idaho’s policy regarding birth certificates is unconstitutional.

The complaint alleges that denying someone a change of gender marker is not only discriminatory, but violates their First Amendment right to free speech by prohibiting them from identifying and being recognized according to their gender identity. It also argues that there is no government justification supporting the state’s refusal to amend gender markers on birth certificates.

“This policy is not only archaic and out-of-step with the rest of America, but also dangerous,” Renn added. “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 1 out of every 3 transgender individuals who have identity documents not reflecting their gender identity reported that they had been harassed, discriminated against, denied benefits and services, and even assaulted.

As a result, transgender people in Idaho that are unable to have their gender marker change are being placed at higher risk of mistreatment by government authorities or other people who have reason to ask for identity documents.

“I just want a birth certificate that accurately reflects who I am,” F.V., who is now living in Hawaii, said in a statement. “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.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com