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Lawsuit Against Ohio’s Prohibition of Gender Changes on Birth Certificates

May 18th, 2018

A lawsuit was recently initiated against the State of Ohio for refusing to allow people to change the gender marker on their birth certificates.

A lawsuit was recently initiated against the State of Ohio for refusing to allow people to change the gender marker on their birth certificates.

Lambda Legal, in combination with the American Civil Liberties (ACLU) of Ohio, recently initiated legal action against the state of Ohio for its policy that prohibits people from changing the gender marker on their birth certificates. Ohio, as well as Kansas and Tennessee, are the only states that decline to change gender designations even after a person has gone through gender transition surgery and obtained written confirmation from a medical professional. Even more uniquely, Ohio allows people to change gender designations on other documents including driver’s licenses, passports, state identification, and social security papers.

The Basis for the Lawsuit

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of six transgender individual (three men and three women) who are still identified according to their assigned sex at birth on state issued birth certificates. By denying these individuals the right to change their gender marker on birth certificates, the lawsuit argues that the individuals right to equal protection, due process, and freedom from compelled speech are violated. One of these transgender individuals even argues that she was threatened with physical harm after a colleague discovered through her birth certificate that she was transgender. A second plaintiff who is a truck driver states that he has been unable to obtain a hazardous materials endorsement required for a promotion because the mismatched documents required for a background check are constantly rejected. The lawsuit also argues that there is no valid governmental justification for the policy.

The Argument by the Parties Initiating the Lawsuit

Accurate birth certificates are essential to individuals, argue the parties initiating the lawsuit. Some of these important elements include banking, education, employment, government services, health care, housing, and travel. A large number of agencies depend on birth certificates as a basic identity document. Ohio’s decision to refuse gender changes on birth certificates, the lawsuit argues, perpetuates an atmosphere of discrimination and places transgender individuals at risk of harassment, harm, humiliation, and in some cases, even violence.

The arguments raised by the ACLU were also brought up in a case against Alabama, which required individuals who wanted to change the sex listed on their drivers’ licenses to provide either an amended state birth certificate or a letter from the physician that performed the reassignment procedure.

Some individuals like Citizens for Community Values have argued that the ACLU is wasting taxpayer money by initiating this lawsuit and that medical accuracy should not be sacrificed for political perspective. The group further argues that birth certificates that do not accurately reflect “biological realities” becomes meaningless and potentially harmful.

The Universal Life Church

It remains uncertain how this lawsuit will be resolved, but it has the potential to significantly advance the rights of transgender individuals in the United States. The lawsuit comes during a time when state and federal laws are still defining the rights of transgender individuals. By continuing to read the Universal Life Church’s blog each month, you can make sure that you stay up to date with the various developments concerning the rights of transgender individuals.

(image courtesy of Kate Krivanec)

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