The ACLU has asked an Ohio court to strike down a state policy that prevents transgender people from “correcting” the sex markers on their birth certificates.
Ohio is just one of two states that prevents transgender people from changing the sex markers on birth certificates, the other being Tennessee. Kansas had a similar policy in place until it was sued by a national nonprofit called Lambda Legal, which is partnering with the ACLU in the Ohio case.
The ACLU of Ohio initially filed its lawsuit against the state in March 2018 and state officials responded by filing a motion to have the complaint dismissed. A U.S. District Court judge rejected the state’s motion to dismiss in September, ensuring that the lawsuit would make its way through the courts.
“Today we took a huge leap forward toward the goal of ensuring that transgender people born in Ohio will have access to an accurate birth certificate that matches their identity, which is essential to their safety, privacy, and well-being,” Lambda Legal staff attorney Kara Ingelhart said in a statement after that ruling.
Now, the ACLU has filed a motion for summary judgment in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, which would decide the case without a trial if approved.
“We ask that the court strike down this discriminatory policy so that Ohio-born trans people can access accurate birth certificates. This is basic, and it’s essential to trans peoples’ safety, privacy, and well-being,” said Elizabeth Bonham, staff attorney for the ACLU of Ohio. “The state should not have erected this barrier in the first place; our clients need the Court to eliminate it now.”
The lawsuit itself was brought on behalf of four transgender plaintiffs in Ohio who were not allowed to change the sex markers on their birth certificates.
“Each of them has repeatedly had to disclose their birth certificate as a routine part of their lives—each time outing them as transgender, causing them fear and humiliation, forcing them to endorse a message with which they emphatically disagree, and putting them at grave risk of physical harm,” states the motion.
The ACLU argues that no compelling government interest justifies the policy, which “violates Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights to privacy, equal protection, and free speech.”
“Identity documents such as birth certificates, are critical to everyday life,” Ingelhart added. “Without them, transgender people—who already experience staggering levels of discrimination and violence—also have to contend with barriers to employment, education, and important public benefits. Ohio’s policy is discriminatory, dangerous, out-of-step with practically every other state in the country and clearly unconstitutional.”
The full lawsuit can be viewed here.
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