Idaho Must Let Transgender People Change Gender On Their Birth Certificate, Court Rules

"Essential identity documents should accurately reflect who you are... It only makes sense."

A federal court ruled that Idaho must allow transgender people to alter the sex on their birth certificates to accurately reflect their lived gender identities.

Last April, F.V. and Dani Martin filed a lawsuit against the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) for not allowing them to change the sex on their birth certificates. At the time, Idaho was one of just four states with no legal mechanism in place to change the gender on birth certificates.

“I just want a birth certificate that accurately reflects who I am,” said F.V.

Represented by Lambda Legal, the two plaintiffs argued that their inaccurate documents put them at risk for being outed or discriminated against. State officials were willing to accommodate their request if presented with a court order, but District Court Judge Candy Dale determined Idaho’s current policy is unconstitutional.

“These laws give certain people access to birth certificates that accurately reflect who they are, while denying transgender people, as a class, access to birth certificates that accurately reflect their gender identity,” Dale wrote in her ruling. “Therefore, as Defendants concede, the plaintiffs’ equal protection claims are valid.”

The ruling mandates IDHW implement a procedure for changing the gender on birth certificates by April 6, 2018. It also requires officials to craft the policy sensitively, and remove any record of updates so as not to out anyone.

“The Court understood that the state’s ban against transgender people correcting their birth certificates was archaic, unjust, and discriminatory,” said Lambda Legal attorney Peter Renn in a statement. “It only makes sense… Essential identity documents should accurately reflect who you are.”

Advocates hope that the ruling will spur change in Kansas, Ohio, and Tennessee, the three remaining states that bar altering sex markers on birth certificates.

It’ a hot topic in state legislatures: Just last week, the New Jersey Senate approved a bill that would allow transgender residents to change the sex on their birth certificates without undergoing gender-confirming surgery, a requirement most states still have.

Samantha Manzella is a writer and copy editor based out of the Hudson Valley. You can find her writing in a coffeehouse or searching Insta for the latest tattoo artist to hit the scene.