Lambda Legal Files Motion Against Anti-Transgender Birth Certificate Law

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April 16, 2020

Lambda Legal today filed a motion with the U.S. District Court to confirm that its March 5, 2018 ruling, which ordered Idaho state officials to allow transgender people born in Idaho to correct the gender markers on their birth certificates to match their gender identity, bars enforcement of the recent bill signed into law by Gov. Brad Little, which reinstates a ban against such corrections by transgender people.

“Two years ago, the court determined that the state’s ban against transgender people correcting their birth certificates was dangerous, discriminatory, and indefensible.  That is why the court permanently barred Idaho from automatically turning away transgender people seeking birth certificates that match their gender identity.  Permanent means permanent,” Lambda Legal Counsel Peter Renn said. “It is shocking that state lawmakers would be so brazenly lawless as to defy a federal court ruling. The rule of law collapses if we refuse to abide by the outcome of who wins and who loses in our system of justice. HB 509, which reinstates a ban that the court already declared unconstitutional, is a naked flouting of the rule of law.”

Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Kara Ingelhart added: “It is incredible that Idaho, in the midst of a health pandemic, would push through this discriminatory law that jeopardizes the health and well-being of transgender people and clearly and explicitly violates a court order. Essential identity documents should accurately reflect who you are. The court recognized that two years ago, and we ask only that it confirm what it already said.”

Lambda Legal filed the original lawsuit, F.V. v. Barron, in 2017. The lawsuit argued that denying transgender people born in Idaho the ability to obtain accurate birth certificates discriminates against them and invades their privacy, liberty, and freedom from compelled speech under U.S. Constitution.  For example, after one plaintiff, who is a transgender woman, displayed her birth certificate at a social security office, she was subjected to verbal harassment for being transgender.  In March, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho ruled that the government unconstitutionally discriminated against transgender people, and it issued a permanent injunction against state officials.

According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, almost one-third of transgender individuals who showed an identity document with a name or gender marker that conflicted with their perceived gender were harassed, denied benefits or services, discriminated against, or assaulted. Transgender individuals also are disproportionately targeted for hate crimes.  Forty-seven other states currently provide a process for transgender people to change the gender marker on their birth certificates.

Handling the case on behalf of Lambda Legal are Peter Renn, Kara Ingelhart, and Nora Huppert.  They are joined by co-counsel Monica G. Cockerille of Cockerille Law Office in Boise, Idaho.

Transgender people seeking accurate birth certificates from Idaho can contact Lambda Legal's Help Desk.