• July 31, 2021

Exclusive: Trans folks sue for basic privacy and dignity after state changes birth certificate law

 Exclusive: Trans folks sue for basic privacy and dignity after state changes birth certificate law

Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed Senate Bill 280 into law in April, which repealed the rule Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s administration instilled back in 2017. This bill passed 26-23 in the Senate and 54-46 in the House. Surprising no one, Republican lawmakers in the state backed the measure pretty strongly. You might remember that Montana recently passed an anti-trans sports bill into law as well, banning trans girls from competing in school and college sports teams that align with their gender. 

Marquez explained, as reported by local outlet KTVH, “I would like to change the sex designation on my birth certificate to match my female gender identity, but I am unable to do so because of the law.” The 27-year-old added in a statement that it is a “painful and stigmatizing reminder” that the state refuses to recognize her as a woman. For Marquez, she doesn’t want the surgery right now, and nor can she afford it.

As the suit explains, Marquez has been taking hormones for two years and has already legally changed her name. She is generally read as a woman, so being forced to present an ID document that incorrectly labels her as male is at minimum confusing and could also be legitimately dangerous. The document would essentially “out” her as trans, not to mention the emotional trauma of being misgendered by your own documentation and government.

John Doe, the other plaintiff, has slightly different circumstances. The 22-year-old Doe has undergone one gender-affirming surgery, takes hormones, and is in counseling for gender dysphoria, but does not want to have to give that documentation in court. Why? Producing that document in public would also “out” him, and adds a financial and time burden that, again, cis folks don’t have to deal with.

In the big picture, there’s one takeaway that’s important to remember no matter what state or federal requirements are: Trans people are trans. Some people may want to take hormones, for example, or seek one or more surgeries. Some people don’t want to, or can’t access those services, or can’t afford them. Some people will try something, like hormones, then stop taking them, for whatever reason. Some people may change their name or pronouns more than once. That’s all fine, normal, and valid.

Insisting that trans folks meet arbitrary guidelines for being trans “enough” to update identifying documents is hurtful, discriminatory, and, frankly, a waste of time. Whether or not someone has a gender-affirming surgery really makes no difference to the state—it’s just another invasive, exhausting hoop for people to jump through and another way to make people feel excluded and othered. 

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Reporters Team

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