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Idaho House Committee Approves Ban On Transgender Birth Certificate Changes

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders
Boise State Public Radio

A bill to bar transgender people from changing their birth certificates to match their gender identity is headed to the Idaho House after a party line vote.

The proposal from Rep. Julianne Young (R-Blackfoot) would implement a similar policy that’s already been ruled unconstitutional by a federal court.

Public testimony overwhelmingly opposed the bill, as has testimony for other bills working their way through the Idaho legislature that target the transgender community.

Blaine Conzatti, who works for the Family Policy Alliance of Idaho, was one of two supporters who spoke Friday morning. Conzatti said allowing these changes will let transgender women use female bathrooms and locker rooms.

“In each of these cases, vulnerable populations, women and children, are made decidedly less safe because of the policy allowing the birth certificate content to be changed,” he said.

None of the bill’s supporters could list an example of someone being assaulted by a transgender woman in Idaho in these settings.

Emilie Jackson-Edney is a transgender woman living in Garden City. Having a birth certificate that aligns with her gender identity allowed her to update her passport and driver’s license, which she said lifted a weight off of her.

“All of these allow me to navigate smoothly through our society and everyday life with relative safety, free from demeaning harassment, humiliation, heightened scrutiny,” Jackson-Edney said.

After the federal court ruling in 2018, Idaho was forced to accept applications from transgender people to change the gender marker on their birth certificates. From April 6, 2018 to Jan. 31, 2020, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has received 176 such applications, according to a spokeswoman.

Lawyers from both the ACLU of Idaho and Lambda Legal, the organization which filed that federal lawsuit, said Young’s bill could put state workers in contempt of court if they refuse to amend birth certificates to align with a person’s gender identity.

Rep. John Gannon (D-Boise), who’s also an attorney, agrees.

“The legislation is a legal disaster setting the state of Idaho up for an expensive losing lawsuit paid for by taxpayers,” Gannon said.

The entire House will consider the bill next.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!