News (USA)

Trans people are suing the state of Kansas to correct their birth certificates

Photo: AP

Lambda Legal has filed a federal lawsuit in Kansas because the state won’t let transgender people update the gender noted on their birth certificates.

The suit was filed on behalf of two transgender women and two transgender men from Kansas who want to correct their birth certificates but can’t.

Kansas is one of three states – along with Ohio and Tennessee – that has no procedure for correcting birth certificates.

“By not allowing transgender people like me to correct our birth certificates, the state complicates every aspect of our lives,” said Luc Bensimon, 46, one of the plaintiffs in the case. He explained that having a birth certificate that says he’s female makes it easier for people to find out that he’s trans and discriminate against him.

Related: Kansas to toughen rules on transgender birth certificates

The lawsuit alleges that Kansas’s refusal to correct birth certificates violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection guarantee.

“Put simply, all people need access to a birth certificate that accurately reflects their identity,” the complaint reads. “However, transgender people born in Kansas, unlike cisgender people born in Kansas, do not have access to accurate birth certificates.”

The lawsuit cites instances of private sphere discrimination that were enabled by the government’s failure to provide correct birth certificates.

“For example, [plaintiff Nyla] Foster has been required to present her birth certificate during job application processes. Because her birth certificate inaccurately states that she is male, providing this document has led directly to Ms. Foster being ‘outed’ as transgender, and subsequently treated suspiciously and disrespectfully by prospective employers.”

Kansas does allow transgender people to correct their driver’s licenses and state identification cards.

“The birth certificate policy at issue in this case is archaic and discriminatory. Kansas is out of step with the rest of America. Forty-seven states, DC, and Puerto Rico acknowledge the importance of individuals having access to essential government identity documents that accurately reflect their sex, consistent with their gender identity. It is about time Kansas joins them,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan of Lambda Legal.

The lawsuit also says that Kansas’s policy makes it difficult to run background checks on transgender people.

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