Idaho's New Transgender Birth Certificate Law Is Back In Federal Court

Apr 17, 2020

LGBTQ advocates are going to court once again this week to push back against a new Idaho law rolling back transgender rights.

Lambda Legal has filed a motion in federal court asking a judge to block the implementation of a law that bars transgender people from changing the gender on their birth certificate.

Supporters say sex isn’t a trait you can change at whim. They argue the law approved by Gov. Brad Little (R) late last month isn’t discriminatory, since cisgender people, or those whose sex assigned at birth matches their gender identity, also can’t generally change their birth certificates.

But Kara Inglehart, with Lamda Legal, said it does treat trans people differently than others.

“Cisgender people born in Idaho can possess accurate birth certificates that in real time reflect their identity and can be used as a fundamental form of an identity document,” Inglehart said. “Transgender people can’t.”

A federal court ruled two years ago that a state policy was unconstitutional in Idaho because it categorically banned trans people from changing their birth certificates. The judge permanently barred the state from doing so.

An opinion from the Idaho attorney general’s office concluded the state would be “unlikely” to successfully defend this law in court and that it could cost taxpayers more than $1 million in legal fees.

This is the second court action this week on a law that limits transgender rights. The ACLU and others sued the state over a law that bans trans girls and women from playing on sports teams — another case the Idaho attorney general's office concluded was "constitutionally problematic."

A spokesman for the Idaho attorney general's office declined to comment on pending litigation.

Lamda Legal is hoping to expedite the case. If approved by the judge, the state of Idaho would have to respond to by May 1. The law goes into effect July 1.

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