Idaho Stands Up to Critics, Passes Strict Criteria for Changing Gender on Birth Certificates


Idaho officials have made it more difficult for young transgender people to change the gender listed on their birth certificate.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare released comments from the public Wednesday on a temporary rule requiring people younger than 18 to get approval from medical or mental health professionals before requesting the change.

Many of the comments said they wanted the conservative state to go back to banning all gender changes on birth certificates.

A federal judge ruled last year that an Idaho law barring transgender people from changing their birth certificates violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“Any new rule must not subject one class of people to any more onerous burdens than the burdens placed on others without constitutionally appropriate justification,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale wrote.

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Health and Welfare’s board of directors complied with the order and changed the state’s rules last year. But this May, the board approved the temporary rule requiring anyone under 18 to get approval before requesting the change.

The requirement “advances the public health, safety, and welfare of minors because it ensures the decision to amend the sex designation is informed and supported by independent professional judgment,” the department said in documents justifying the change.

Because of a unique set of circumstances involving Idaho’s obscure rule-making process, that temporary rule went into effect July 1.

Thousands of rules touching on just about every aspect of daily life were set to expire earlier this year after lawmakers killed a bill reauthorizing them at the end of the legislative session in April. Republican Gov. Brad Little used his executive authority to give rules he wanted to keep temporary status on July 1.

The Idaho Legislature convenes in January, and lawmakers will again consider approving or rejecting rules, including the one on transgender birth certificates.

The newly released public comments are part of that process.

“Your gender is what you were born as biologically. How you self-identify is irrelevant,” Georgia Ryan of Blanchard wrote in one comment that was submitted.

Between April 2018 and September, 145 people, including 20 minors, applied to change the gender on their birth certificates, Health and Welfare spokeswoman Niki Forbing-Orr said. They ranged from ages 7 to 78.

She said five minors applied after the July 1 rule change, but she didn’t have information about the status of those applications.

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Peter Renn of Lambda Legal, the law firm that represented two transgender women whose lawsuit led to the court ruling, said Idaho could be straying from its legal obligations.

“The court recognized that the government shouldn’t be in the business of putting up senseless roadblocks for transgender people seeking to correct their birth certificates,” he said Thursday in a statement to The Associated Press.

The Idaho attorney general’s office had no comment, spokesman Scott Graf said.

After Idaho lost the lawsuit forcing it to change the birth certificate law, it paid $75,000 in court-ordered attorney fees to the winning side.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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