A regulation prohibiting transgender persons from amending their birth certificates was made permanent by Montana health officials on Friday, even if they have gender-confirmation surgery.
Just days before a court would hear arguments regarding the legitimacy of a similar order that has been in operation on an emergency basis since May, the Republican governor Greg Gianforte’s administration took the action. The emergency order has been challenged by the ACLU of Montana before state judge Michael Moses.
Montana Will Not Allow Birth Certificate Details To Be Changed
Conservative lawmakers in many states have pushed to restrict transgender people’s rights during the past few years. According to proponents of transgender rights, only Tennessee, Oklahoma, and West Virginia have such broad restrictions against birth certificate changes.
The state Department of Public Health and Human Services announced it will replace the category of “gender” with a listing for “sex” — either male or female — that can only be modified in very specific circumstances under the new rule. The regulation said that gender is a “social construct” that can change over time, but that sex is “immutable.”
Moses claimed that because the statute established by the 2021 Legislature did not specify which surgical procedures were necessary, it was unconstitutionally ambiguous. Ohio and Idaho bans were overturned in 2020.
When requested to provide their birth certificate, transgender plaintiffs argued they run the risk of humiliation, discrimination, harassment, or assault if the document doesn’t match their gender identity. They were represented by the ACLU of Montana.
The ruling on Friday, according to ACLU attorney Akilah Lane, is “more evidence of the state’s non-compliance” with Moses’ April injunction. The case will be heard by the judge in a hearing on Thursday in Billings.
Before the new law, transgender people in Montana merely had to submit an affidavit to the state health department to amend their birth certificate.