News (USA)

Federal judge slaps down Ohio law that bans transgender people from correcting birth certificates

Transgender flag being waved in a crowd
Photo: Shutterstock

A federal judge has just ruled that Ohio’s complete ban on transgender people correcting the gender marker on their birth certificates is unconstitutional.

“At bottom, the court finds that defendants’ proffered justifications are nothing more than thinly veiled post-hoc rationales to deflect from the discriminatory impact of the policy,” Judge Michael Watson wrote in his decision.

Related: This Ohio bill would make it criminal if teachers don’t out trans teens to their parents

Ohio completely bans transgender people from correcting the gender markers on their birth certificates. While the procedure to correct a birth certificate varies from state-to-state, only Ohio and Tennessee have laws that ban transgender people from doing so.

In 2018, four transgender people filed a lawsuit against the state with help from Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Ohio, and the firm Thompson Hine. They said that the state’s ban violates their 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law.

This week, a judge with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio ruled in their favor, calling the ban “intentional and arbitrary” discrimination.

Judge Watson also said that the state couldn’t even show that they had a good reason for instituting the policy and was instead making up justifications after the fact to rationalize it.

Birth certificates “are foundational to our ability to access a variety of benefits such as employment and housing, and to navigate the world freely and safely, as who we truly are,” said Lambda Legal attorney Kara Ingelhart. “Courts across the country have overwhelmingly determined these archaic and harmful laws are unconstitutional and today we are closer than ever to eradicating them once and for all.”

On of the plaintiffs was Stacie Ray, who 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 by Jane Doe, were 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.

Earlier this year, Idaho passed a law that also bans transgender people from correcting the gender marker on their birth certificates. A different federal judge ruled that that state’s ban also violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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