Idaho forced to pay $320,000 over trans birth certificate ban it knew was unconstitutional

Idaho forced to pay $300k after passing transphobic law it knew was unconstitutional

The state of Idaho in the US has been forced to pay hundreds of thousands in legal fees over an unconstitutional anti-trans bill.

LGBTQNation reported the state must pay $321,224.50 over its enacting a law (HB 509) that would “disallow transgender people to update the gender marker on their birth certificate”, despite it having already been ruled “unconstitutional”.

The legislation claimed “biological distinctions between male and female are a matter of scientific fact, and biological sex is an objectively defined category that has obvious, immutable, and distinguishable characteristics”.

It was introduced in 2020 by Republican state representative Julianne Young, who claimed a birth certificate is a “historical document”, and that it must not be changed.

After a legal challenge, in June 2020 judge Candy Dale found the legislation violated the Equal Protection Clause as it endangered trans people.

LGBTQ+ advocacy group Lambda Legal argued a ban on trans people updating their birth certificates had already been ruled unconstitutional two years previously, in 2018, when Idaho tried to enact a similar policy.

Lambda Legal senior attorney Renn said at the time: “It only makes sense [that the bill is unconstitutional].

“Essential identity documents should accurately reflect who you are, and the court recognised that the government cannot rob transgender people of this basic tool to navigate through life.

“With this change, transgender Idahoans will no longer be forced to represent that they are someone they are not and jeopardise their privacy and safety.”

Now, Dale has ordered the state to pay legal costs. The plaintiffs had requested $450,000, according to LGBTQNation, but were awarded just over $320,000.

In another win for LGBTQ+ rights in Idaho, Republican lawmakers in the state killed a cruel bill in March that would have criminalised doctors and parents who helped trans kids receive gender-affirming treatment. 

The bill, which GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis called “extreme” and “unnecessary”, would have made it a felony to provide gender-affirming medical care to trans minors in the state.

Under the bill, anyone who provided or knowingly gave permission for a young trans person to receive gender-affirming surgeries or treatments could have faced life in prison. 

Though the bill passed through the state’s Republican-controlled House, it collapsed in the state’s Senate after the proposed legislation sparked international outcry. 

Leaders from the Idaho Senate Republicans said in a statement: “We believe in parents’ rights and that the best decisions regarding medical treatment options for children are made by parents, with the benefit of their physician’s advice and expertise.”