Off the top, I have to say that I have no good feelings towards Idaho.
Soon after I began my transition in 1992, I traveled by bus to visit my relatives in Oregon and was arrested in the Greyhound bus terminal in Boise for using the women's bathroom...even though before the trip, I had gotten permission from Greyhound to do so.
The cops took all my money but returned my ticket. I spent the night back in the terminal because the local gay bar in walking distance had a "no trannies" policy.
A transgender woman, identified only as F. V., who is a resident of Hawaii but was born in Boise, asked the Idaho Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics to amend the gender on her birth certificate, but was denied.
Most states allow people to change their birth certificate to reflect their gender identity rather than the gender they were assigned at birth. Only Idaho, Kansas, Ohio and Tennessee have policies or laws prohibiting such changes.
The Kansas policy has been legally challenged by the Transgender Law Center. Lambda Legal is challenging a similar policy in Puerto Rico.
On Tuesday F. V. filed a lawsuit against the state in federal court, contending that the Idaho policy "serves no valid purpose, subjects her to discrimination, and burdens her right to define and reflect her gender identity."
A woman has the right to be treated as a woman, rather than a man, by her government; and the fact that she is a woman who is transgender does not change that right.
--F.V.'s Lambda Legal attorneys
Idaho has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit; the Idaho Attorney General's office has declined to comment on the case because it is pending litigation.
Many states, such as Colorado and Alabama, require proof of sex reassignment surgery before the change can be made. But other states, like California, require only an affidavit stating that "clinically appropriate treatment" for gender transition has been provided to the applicant.
That's an important legal distinction, because not all transgender people have access to or the desire to undergo sex reassignment surgery or hormone treatment. Some transgender people may choose to transition socially — presenting themselves in a way that is consistent with their gender identities — without using medical procedures to masculinize or feminize their bodies.
Many states require birth certificates to show that the gender assigned at birth or a person's legal name has been changed. That can also result in "outing" or revealing transgender status against a persons will, F.V. notes in the lawsuit. She is asking a judge to order the state to allow people to change the gender listed on their birth certificates without including historical information that would reasonably disclose their transgender status.
According to the lawsuit, F.V. has already faced discrimination for possessing a birth certificate that doesn't reflect her gender identity. She was subjected to hostility at a Social Security office, according to the lawsuit.
After seeing her birth certificate, staff at the office referred to her as a 'tranny,' a derogatory term that disclosed F.V.'s transgender status to others in the waiting area.
There is no compelling, important, or even legitimate interest in the government causing transgender individuals to involuntarily disclose their transgender status any time third parties see their birth certificate.
--Lambda Legal attorneys
Unlike nearly every other state in America, Idaho currently enforces a categorical ban against transgender people changing the gender on their birth certificates, which is an archaic policy that defies logic. In fact, government officials in Idaho know this, given that they allow transgender people to change the gender on their drivers’ licenses.
--Peter Renn, Lambda Legal
The complaint filed Tuesday says Idaho’s Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics is violating the woman’s constitutional rights to liberty and speech, while tacitly endorsing discrimination.
Whether we are talking about access to restrooms or violence against transgender people, so much of the discrimination stems from a refusal to recognize their gender.
I hope that Idaho will give me the dignity of deciding when complete strangers get to know deeply private information about my life. Like so many transgender people, I’ve been on the receiving end of harassment and outright violence. It costs Idaho nothing to correct this piece of paper and recognize me as the woman that I am.