Idaho House Rejects Court Order, Approves Ban On Transgender Birth Certificate Changes

Feb 28, 2020

Most House Republicans ignored a federal court order by passing a bill to ban transgender people from changing the gender marker on their birth certificates.


Idaho has already been through this fight once. The state department of health and welfare previously had a blanket ban on transgender men and women from editing their birth certificates.

Two people sued and in 2018 a federal judge rejected the policy as unconstitutional. The state didn’t bother to appeal.

Rep. Julianne Young’s (R-Blackfoot) bill is slightly different. It would ban anyone from changing their birth certificate with few exceptions. She said documenting “biological sex” is critical to the health and safety of Idaho.

“Surgery can imitate the appearance, but never the natural function of the opposite biological sex,” Young said.

Someone’s sex assigned at birth is important to track, she said, because it could reveal mortality or other health trends that show up differently between males and females.

Earlier this week, transgender men and women testified that they’ve been harassed in public for not having a driver’s license that matches their gender identity. To change that, they have to provide their birth certificate.

Those experiences touched Rep. Linda Wright Hartgen (R-Twin Falls), one of only two Republicans to vote against the bill.

“My job here is to protect all of the people of my district and the state of Idaho, not just those who look like me,” Hartgen said.

As a retired trial court administrator, she said that she respects court decisions, like the one barring these kinds of policies.

Lawyers from both ACLU of Idaho and Lambda Legal, the organization which filed the original lawsuit, testified during the bill’s committee hearing Monday that implementing this type of a ban could put state employees in contempt of court by violating the 2018 order.

This is the second bill in as many days passed by the Idaho House targeting the transgender community. The Senate will take up the issue next.

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