Montana Hit With Lawsuit Over Sex-Change Policy For Birth Certificates, Driver’s Licenses

Two transgender people sued Montana on Thursday, challenging a state policy that bars residents from changing the sex designations on their birth certificates unless they meet certain criteria.

Jessica Kalarchik and an individual identified only as “Jane Doe” are listed as plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging a state policy that, they argue, makes it “impossible” for transgender people born in Montana to change their birth certificates. The policy, which was finalized in 2022, prohibits individuals from changing the gender on their birth certificate, unless their gender was listed incorrectly on the original certificate as a result of data error or misidentification, according to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).

In either scenario, people who wish to change their gender must provide supporting documentation in accordance with state law, according to DPHHS. The plaintiffs are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

“After finally being able to live my life openly as the woman I know myself to be, I am frustrated that my birth state, Montana, is forcing me to carry around a birth certificate that incorrectly lists my sex as male. 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,” Kalarchik said in a prepared statement on Thursday.

“I live my life openly as a woman, I am treated as a woman in my daily life, and there is no reason I should be forced to carry a birth certificate that incorrectly identifies me as male,” Kalarchik said.

Montana passed SB 280 into law in 2021, which only allowed for sex designation changes on birth certificates if the applicant provided receipt of a court order indicating their gender had changed by way of surgical procedure.

That law was later struck down following a lawsuit. However, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services issued an emergency rule in 2022 that put into place the current restrictions on birth certificate sex changes.

The lawsuit filed on Thursday challenges that Montana policy, along with another practice by the Motor Vehicle Division that does not allow sex designation changes to driver’s licenses.

“Forcing anyone to carry documents that contradict their identity violates their right to privacy and is unjust discrimination and unconstitutionally compelled speech,” Malita Picasso, staff attorney for the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project, stated in a Thursday press release.

News of the lawsuit is the latest in the back-and-forth between transgender activists and Republican-led state governments.

Ohio and Kansas, for example, have both been engaged in litigation in recent years over how easily residents in their state can change identities on their birth certificates. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also faced a court challenge over a bill he signed into law that bars biological men from participating in women’s sports.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, one of the defendants listed on the lawsuit, for comment, but his office did not immediately respond.

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