News (USA)

Ohio moves to allow trans people to correct birth certificates

A birth certificate
Photo: Shutterstock

Ohio is one of only three states that doesn’t allow transgender people to correct the gender on their birth certificates, but that will soon be changing.

A federal judge ruled in December that Ohio’s ban on transgender people correcting the gender marker on their birth certificates was unconstitutional. The state has decided that not only will they not appeal the ruling, they’re reportedly in talks with legal advocates to make the process simpler.

Related: Biden administration says it’s unconstitutional to put a trans woman in men’s prisons

According to a filing with the court, the Ohio Department of Health is “updating its communications on this issue to reflect compliance” with the court order instead.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the state health department is in active discussions with the ACLU of Ohio, who is keeping mum on the progress of the “negotiations.” But Ohio is expecting to have a process for allowing trans people to update their birth certificates in place on June 1.

This is after Judge Michael Watson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio ruled in favor of four transgender people — supported by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Ohio, and the firm Thompson Hine — in December 2020. Judge Watson called the ban “intentional and arbitrary” discrimination.

“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 December 2020 decision.

Similarly, the national ACLU is believed to be working on a plan being undertaken by the Biden administration to allow agencies of the United States government to give an “X” option as a gender marker on federal-issued documents.

Ohio had a complete ban on transgender people correcting the gender markers on their birth certificates, being one of the only states with explicit bans on the process, alongside Tennessee, although policies for correcting a birth certificate varies from state-to-state. Melissa Alexander of TransOhio has stated that the Department of Health only started denying transgender people the opportunity to update their birth certificates around ten years ago.

The lawsuit was first filed in 2018, when plaintiffs took the state to court because they believed the rule violated their 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law. Judge Watson agreed and 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.

On of the plaintiffs, Stacie Ray, has 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, 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.

Last 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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