Politics

Federal judge shuts down a state’s anti-transgender law… again

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A federal judge has ordered an Idaho agency to stop enforcing a new law that bans transgender people in the state from correcting the sex marker on their birth certificates for a second time.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ordered the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) to create a process for transgender people to correct the gender marker on their birth certificates in an injunction issued in 2018. That case was brought by a transgender woman who was called a “tra**y” and a “fa***t” at a Social Security office when she showed them her birth certificate.

Related: The NCAA might move college sports out of Idaho because of its law banning trans athletes

The judge found that the state’s blanket ban on transgender people updating their birth certificate violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

But earlier this year, Idaho’s legislature passed a law that banned transgender people from correcting the sex on their birth certificates.

Idaho Rep. Julianne Young (R) proposed the bill because, she said, a birth certificate is a “historical document” and transitioning can “cosmetically imitate but never reproduce the natural function of the other biological sex.”

Gov. Brad Little (R) signed the bill into law, and advocacy groups immediately took the state to court, saying that the law violates the 2018 injunction.

Since June, the IDHW has changed its application form for correcting birth certificates to follow new law. The form only allows people to make changes if they can show a court order that their birth certificate is incorrect due to fraud.

Judge Dale just issued a memorandum to clarify that the IDHW’s new applications violate the 2018 injunction. While the judge noted that IDHW is “in a difficult predicament over how to comply with both the Injunction and Idaho Code,” she said that the IDHW still had to comply with her 2018 injunction.

She noted that, in a hearing, the IDHW gave examples of when people could change the gender marker on their birth certificates, and they were all examples that apply to cisgender people only. She wrote that IDHW knew that they were not in compliance with her injunction because their process doesn’t allow transgender people to correct their birth certificates even though officials admitted that they knew her injunction required them to do so.

Dale specified that she is not ruling on the constitutionality of the Idaho law that passed this year, just that the IDHW is required to follow her injunction no matter what the law says.

“It is astonishing that the Idaho legislature and Gov. Little plowed forward with resuscitating this dangerous and archaic ban in direct defiance of multiple court orders that repeatedly ordered the government to stop discriminating against transgender people and placing them in harm’s way,” said Lambda Legal attorney Nora Huppert in a statement.

“When you treat the federal court like a doormat, there are going to be consequences. The rule of law comes to a grinding halt if government officials can act as if they are above the law that the rest of us are expected to follow.”

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