People Are Suing Montana Because It Doesn’t Let Transgender People Change Their Birth Records

People Are Suing Montana Because It Doesn't Let Transgender People Change Their Birth Records

Thursday, two transgender women sued the state of Montana and several state agencies over a policy that says people can’t change the sex on their birth records after the year 2022.

The lawsuit is against SB 280, which says that a person’s sex can only be changed on their birth certificate if their sex “has been changed by surgical procedure.”

Also, the claimants questioned the Montana Motor Vehicle Division’s policy, which says that applicants can’t change the sex designation on their driver’s license anymore. Transgender people used to be able to do this with a letter from their doctor.

This case says that all of these steps are “invalid, illegal, and unconstitutional.”

According to transgender veteran Jessica Kalarchik, one of the plaintiffs in the case, “I am frustrated that my birth state, Montana, is making me carry around a birth certificate that wrongly lists my sex as male.” This is because she has finally been able to live her life openly as the woman she knows she is.

“I am being forced to use a birth certificate that is inaccurate and that places me at risk of discrimination and harassment whenever I have to present it.”

The plaintiffs, who are being fought for by the ACLU of Montana, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Nixon Peabody LLP, also want a preliminary order to stop these policies from being put into place.

Akilah Deernose, executive head of the ACLU of Montana, said, “Here in Montana, we value our right to privacy and to live our lives without the government getting in the way.”

“The State of Montana clearly has not learned any lessons from the past few years, where Courts have repeatedly struck down unconstitutional laws targeting transgender Montanans.”

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services said in February that it would only change the sex designation on birth certificates if the person’s sex was wrongly recorded at birth or if the wrong sex labels were caused by a mistake by the person writing the certificate.

The office said it would not change a birth certificate because of “gender transition, gender identity, or change of gender.” However, SB 458 says that sex is “determined by the biological and genetic indication of male and female.”

In May of last year, Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte of Montana signed SB 458 into law. At the time, the governor’s office said that transgender people can “identify with whatever gender, but not sex, they wish.”

A lawsuit was also filed against SB 280 soon after it was passed in 2021. During the case, Billings District Court Judge Michael Moses granted a preliminary injunction telling the state not to follow the law.

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