TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is pursuing regulations that would give it one of the nation’s toughest policies against allowing transgender people to update their birth certificates, prompting anger from advocates and threats of a lawsuit.
State health department officials contend an existing agency regulation allowing amended birth certificates conflicts with state law and needs to be eliminated. The agency has been pursuing changes for months and could impose them within six weeks.
The department’s revised rules would allow a change only if a person or his or her parents could document that the gender was incorrectly recorded at the time of birth.
Three transgender rights advocates called on the department to abandon its proposed changes during a hearing Thursday. The National Center for Transgender Equality says only Idaho and Tennessee have legal policies against changing gender listings on birth certificates, though Ohio also is not allowing it.
“It really stands against where most of the country is on updating identity documents to accurately reflect who people are,” said Arli Christian, the center’s state policy counsel.
But Republican Kansas state Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook said a birth certificate is “a record for future generations” and shouldn’t be changed lightly. She said the document should reflect the “science” behind a person’s gender and not “political purposes.”
“Men and women are biologically different,” she said. “I don’t think we should become detached from reality.”
Conservative Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration is pursuing the change amid scrutiny of a new law in North Carolina requiring transgender people to use public bathrooms, showers and changing rooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate. The U.S. Justice Department and the state’s governor sued each other this week.
Brownback was a strong supporter of the state’s now-invalidated ban on same-sex marriage. Also, in February 2015, he rescinded a Democratic predecessor’s executive order banning anti-LGBT discrimination in hiring and employment in much of state government.