Kansas judge rules trans people’s birth certificates don’t have to be altered

Activist holds up placard that reads 'Trans Rights Now'

A federal judge has ruled that state officials are no longer required to allow transgender Kansas residents to update their birth certificates to reflect their gender identities.

This ruling is a massive blow to those who fought for their gender identity to be recognised in the first place, and severely undermines the requirements of the 2019 federal consent agreement that required officials to update the details of a person’s birth certificate when asked.

Judge Daniel Crabtree made the disappointing ruling in response to Republican Attorney General Kris Kobach’s request to stop enforcing the 2019 agreement.

Kobach argued that the agreement contradicted a new state law that defines male and female by the sex assigned at birth.

A person holds up a sign reading 'Trans rights are human rights' in the blue, pink and white colours of the trans Pride flag during a protest
Kansas officials are no longer required to change trans people’s birth certificates to match their gender identity. (Getty)

Senate Bill 180,  known as the Women’s Bill of Rights, took effect on 1 July and is part of a larger effort across an increasing number of US states to limit transgender rights.

Judge Crabtree’s ruling still needs to be backed by a state court to make it constitutional.

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If it is verified by the court, Kansas will join states like Montana, Tennessee, and Oklahoma, which also prevent trans people from altering their birth certificates.

Reacting to Jude Crabtree’s ruling, Kobach said, per The Kansas Reflector: “As long as I am attorney general, the laws of Kansas will be enforced as written.

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“The Legislature decided that birth certificates must reflect biological reality, and they were quite clear in how they wrote the law.”

Referring to Democratic Governor Laura Kell, who had opposed the new law, Kobach continued: “Today’s decision is a rejection of the activists’ and Governor Kelly’s attempt to twist the English language beyond recognition.

“ The court has told the governor what the law clearly means. We now expect the governor to follow the law and cease changing birth certificates to something other than biological sex at birth.”

This comes shortly after Kansas rolled back on transgender people’s rights to update their driving licences to match their gender identities – another ruling made at Kobach’s request last month.

Republican Attorney General Kris Kobach
The ruling was made at Attorney General Kris Kobach’s request. (Getty)

Commenting on Crabtree’s birth certificate ruling, transgender plaintiff Luc Bensimon said, per AP, that he was having trouble making sense of it all, and worried that this would mean state officials would forcibly reverse the gender identity he had listed on his birth certificate.

“I’m not OK with that,” Bensimon said. “And I don’t really have any words right now. … It’s just — I’m not okay with that.”

“I’m pretty upset right now. I’m just trying to figure this out.”

Bensimon’s lawyer Omar Gonzalez-Pagan noted that he believes this ruling won’t affect birth certificates that were already altered, and believes that officials could still change genders on birth certificates as long as they were willing to – unless Kobach goes one step further and gets a separate court order telling them to stop.

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Gonzalez-Pagan also shared his hope that the new law will eventually be found unconstitutional.

“The interpretation of SB180 advocated by Kris Kobach and his ilk is as unlawful as the policies we first challenged in our lawsuit in 2018,” he said.

 “Access to accurate identity documents is vital; without accurate identity documents, transgender people face even greater threats of discrimination, harassment, and even violence.”

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