The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on Thursday, in conjunction with Lambda Legal, against the Ohio Department of Health, on behalf of four transgender people challenging its policy keeping them from changing their gender on their birth certificates.
Three transgender women and one transgender man are named as plantiffs.
The lawsuit comes the same month as a federal court in Idaho ruled that state’s policy blocking transgender people from updating the gender on their birth certificates was not legally justified, ruling it “unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Ohio, Tennessee, and Kansas are now the only states that still have a policy in place preventing changes to gender markers on birth certificates.
“Ohio’s categorical bar stands in sharp contrast to the approach of nearly all other states and the District of Columbia, which have established processes by which transgender people can correct the gender marker on their birth certificate,” the lawsuit notes.
It also points out the inconsistency inherit in allowing transgender Ohioans to update their gender markers on their driver’s licenses and state identification cards.
“A birth certificate purports to tell the world about who we are,” Susan Becker, general counsel for the ACLU of Ohio, told The Washington Post. “Ohio’s birth certificate policy, however, refuses to provide transgender individuals — and only transgender individuals — with a birth certificate that accurately conveys their gender identity.”
“This policy is not only archaic and out-of-step with the rest of America but also dangerous. Forcing transgender Ohioans to go through life with inaccurate birth certificates, a basic form of identification, unnecessarily exposes them to discrimination, harassment, and violence. It also denies them their very identity,” Lambda Legal Law Fellow Kara Ingelhart said in a statement. “In fact, government officials in Ohio know this, given that they allow transgender people to change the gender on their drivers’ licenses and state identification cards.”
Plaintiff Stacie Ray said she was harassed at work when asked why the gender on her birth certificate didn’t match the one on her driver’s license.
“I was referred to as, ‘the freak’ and the female coworker said that if she ever encountered me in the women’s restroom that she’d beat me up,” Ray said.
Basil Argento, another plaintiff in the case, said the policy caused him issues when trying to apply for Italian citizenship, costing him financially and delaying the process by months.
Ashley Breda and a transgender woman who has decided to remain anonymous, going under Jane Doe, are the other two plaintiffs in the case.
Melissa Alexander of TransOhio told the local NBC affiliate that the Department of Health only started denying transgender people the opportunity to update their birth certificates around ten years ago.
Attempts to gain comment from the Ohio Department of Health were met with a spokesperson informing that it would not be commenting on anything to do with the lawsuit.