Idaho judge shoots down ‘dangerous’ GOP-backed bill that would have banned trans birth certificate changes

Members of the transgender community and their supporters attend a rally for transgender equality on Capitol Hill, June 9, 2017 in Washington, DC

A federal district court in Idaho, US, ended a Republican-backed law that banned trans people from changing their birth certificates Friday (August 7) in a stunning victory for activists.

The District Court of Idaho ruled that recent changes made by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare violate a current injunction from a 2018 law.

It brings an end to a topsy-turvy legal battle that has stretched years, Republican legislators attempted to bulldoze in a ban branded by activists as “dangerous and archaic”, Boise Weekly reported.

LGBT+ activists welcome defeat of ‘dangerous and archaic ban’ on trans people having an accurate birth certificates.

Idaho lawmakers in March 2020 passed House Bill 509 which tweaked a section of the Idaho statutes for amending birth certificates.

Signed by governor Brad Little, from July 1, Idaho Health and Welfare introduced revisions that forced trans citizens to submit a certified court order when applying to change the gender marker on their birth certificates.

But as district court judges highlighted in the ruling, in March 2018, courts handed down a permanent injunction stating that the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare would not be able to reject or prevent trans people from changing their gender markers.

The demand for a court order, judges said, was impossible to secure under current Idaho law and “forecloses any avenue for a transgender individual to successfully challenge the sex listed on their Idaho birth certificate to reflect their gender identity”.

Lambda Legal, an LGBT+ rights non-profit, originally lodged a lawsuit against the state in 2017 when lawmakers denied trans citizens the right to obtain accurate birth certificates. Their victory is what secured the 2018 injunction.

“It is astonishing that the Idaho legislature and Gov Little ploughed forward with resuscitating this dangerous and archaic ban in direct defiance of multiple court orders that repeatedly ordered the government to stop discriminating against transgender people and placing them in harm’s way,” said Nora Huppert, a Renberg Fellow and attorney with Lambda Legal, in a statement.

“The court could not have been clearer: What was discriminatory in 2018 remains discriminatory today. Idaho officials may not block transgender people from obtaining identity documents that reflect who they are.

“This law seeks to deny the very existence of transgender people by stripping them of their identity.”