Judge blocks Montana’s anti-trans birth certificate rule. Officials vow to ignore him

Two trans people hold hands while marching under a trans pride flag.

Montana state officials have said they will ignore a court ruling ordering them to allow trans people to update their birth certificates.

District Court judge Michael Moses ruled on Thursday (15 September) that the state could not enforce a rule preventing trans people from updating their birth certificates.

Moses reprimanded state representative attorneys for evading his previous April 2022 ruling, which blocked a similar 2021 law, by coming up with new legislation.

Hours after the ruling, the state said it would defy the decision.

“The department thoroughly evaluated the judge’s vague April 2022 decision and crafted our final rule to be consistent with the decision,” Department of Public Health and Human Services director Charlie Brereton said.

“It’s unfortunate that the judge’s ruling today does not square with his vague April decision.

“The 2022 final rule that the Department issues on September 9 remains in effect, and we are carefully considering next steps.”

Montana’s 2021 law required a surgical procedure before any changes to birth certification could be made.

Judge Moses ruled in April that this interfered with a person’s right to privacy by making trans people disclose private details.

In May, Governor Greg Gianforte’s administration issued an emergency order stating that birth certificates would only list “sex” and not “gender”, defining “sex” as immutable.

The move was met with extreme backlash from various organisations.

In Thursday’s ruling, judge Moses said there was no question that state officials violated his April order with their work-around.

The latest ruling would reinstate a 2017 rule that allowed people to update the gender on their birth certificate by filing an affidavit with state officials.

Montana’s decision to disregard this has been met with sheer bewilderment and disappointment by LGBTQ+ and human rights organisations.

ACLU attorney Malita Picasso said the allegation that there “was any lack of clarity in the court’s ruling” is a “continued flagrant violation” of the court.

Trans Montana Human Rights Network director of equality and economic justice Shawn Reagor said that “we knew from the beginning the Gianforte administration was going against the will of Montanans and the court’s orders.

“[The Montana Human Rights Network] will not stand by while the Gianforte administration blatantly disregards rulings from the courts to continue a vindictive attack on the trans community,” Reagor continued. ”

The judge was very clear the department must go back to the 2017 rule. This is a clear example of the disregard the administration has for the courts.”