Federal Judge Overrules Idaho Law that Birth Certificates Conform to Biological Sex

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Lawmakers in Idaho last year passed the Idaho Vital Statistics Act, which does not allow people to change the sex identification on their birth certificate just because they “identify” as something other than their biological sex.

Those who want to change their gender on their birth certificate because they are “transgender” or have some other “sexual orientation” had already been able to do so because of a 2018 ruling by federal Magistrate Judge Candy Dale, who said it was unconstitutional to deny such changes.

The Idaho State Journal reported on the judge’s latest decision:

Shortly after the bill took effect Lambda Legal, which represented the plaintiffs in the 2018 F.V. v. Barron case, filed a motion asking Dale to clarify whether her 2018 injunction still applies. She ruled on Monday that it does and that the passage of House Bill 509 doesn’t change that.

“The Court clarifies that the plain language and objective of the Order and Judgment entered in this case permanently enjoin (the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare) from infringing on the constitutional rights of transgender individuals by automatically rejecting applications to change the sex listed on their birth certificates to match their gender identity,” Dale wrote. “The Injunction requires IDHW to institute a meaningful and constitutionally-sound process for accepting, reviewing, and considering applications from transgender individuals to amend the gender listed on their birth certificates.”

The judge did not rule on the constitutionality of House Bill 509 or grant Lambda Legal’s effort to block enforcement of the law.

“While serious and formidable questions exist over the constitutionality of HB 509, whether HB 509 can pass constitutional muster is not yet before the Court and not decided here,” Dale wrote. “Likewise, whether enforcement of HB 509 violates the Injunction is not ripe.”

“Like obeying speed limits and paying your taxes, Idaho state officials are not exempt from the duty to follow a court order,” Peter Renn, an attorney with Lamba Legal, said about the ruling. “Here, the court’s 2018 order plainly instructed state officials not to block transgender people from accessing accurate identity documents. The court has now confirmed that what was discriminatory in 2018 remains discriminatory today.”

Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Kara Ingelhart said in the Journal report the group would “continue to protect against efforts to roll back the rights of transgender people born in Idaho.”

The Journal report said Rep. Julianne Young, a Republican sponsored the bill and most other GOP in the state’s legislature supported it while all Democrats opposed it.

Idaho lawmakers also passed legislation this year that bans biological boys who consider themselves to be girls from competing in girls’ sports in high school and college is also facing a legal challenge.

The Journal did include one conservative group, The Family Policy Alliance, in its reporting.

“We have confidence that our judicial system will agree that this law is necessary to protect the safety and health of the people of Idaho,” Blaine Conzatti, the group’s director of advocacy, said in the report. “Birth certificates are records of the facts as they existed at the time of birth. The Idaho Vital Statistics Act ensures that the most important of state vital records are kept factually accurate.”

“Allowing individuals to change their birth certificate sex marker to match their subjective feelings instead of biological reality makes it harder for law enforcement to protect vulnerable populations like women and children,” Conzatti said.

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