Montana just permanently banned trans people from changing their birth certificates

A protester holds the trans flag and snaps in solidarity with other speakers, during a trans rights demonstration

Trans people in Montana have been permanently banned from changing their birth certificates in yet another devastating blow to LGBTQ+ rights.

Health officials in the state adopted a proposed rule change on Friday (9 September) which effectively blocks trans people from changing the gender marker on their birth certificate in any circumstance.

The rule, which came into effect on Saturday (10 Saturday), overrides an earlier law signed in 2021 by Republican governor Greg Gianforte.

At the time, Gianforte faced criticism from LGBTQ+ advocacy groups when he introduced a law requiring trans people to undergo a “surgical procedure” before changing the gender marker on their birth certificates.

Now, the state has permanently adopted a rule which means even trans people who have undergone gender affirming surgeries won’t be able to change their birth certificates.

Greg Gianforte at a fundraiser

Montana Republican governor Greg Gianforte signed the anti-trans bill in 2021. (William Campbell-Corbis via Getty Images)

Under the rule, a person’s birth certificate can only be changed if it was listed incorrectly on the original certificate “as a result of a scrivener’s error or a data entry error”, according to CNN.

The sex marker can also be changed if “the sex of the individual was misidentified on the original certificate and the department receives a correction affidavit and supporting documents” which show results of chromosomal, molecular, karyotypic, DNA or genetic testing “that identify the sex of the individual”.

In short, the new rule is carefully worded to ensure that trans people won’t be able to change their birth certificate details.

Montana has gone to lengths to stop trans people changing birth certificates

In April, a judge pressed the pause button on Gianforte’s law which required trans people to show proof of gender affirming surgeries before changing their birth certificates.

As a result of that preliminary injunction, trans people in Montana were able to continue changing their birth certificates by submitting a “gender designation form” attesting that they had transitioned to state health officials.

That preliminary injunction came about after two trans Montana residents sued, claiming Gianforte’s law violated their constitutional right to privacy and due process.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services responded to the injunction by introducing a temporary rule preventing people from changing their sex on their birth certificates.

The latest change effectively makes that move permanent, according to PBS.

A state court is due to hear arguments about the legality of the rule first adopted in May in the coming days.

The move is just the latest attack on trans rights in Montana. Governor Greg Gianforte has previously signed laws banning trans athletes and allowing religion to be used to “attack” LGBTQ+ people.