Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn

U.S. District Court Judge Candy W. Dale issued a ruling late Monday, March 5, ordering Idaho state officials to allow transgender people born in Idaho to apply to correct the gender markers on their state of Idaho birth certificates by April 6 this year.

The ruling came in a lawsuit, F.V. vs. Barron, filed last April by Lambda Legal challenging the state’s categorical ban on such corrections.

Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn said the ruling shows that the court “understood that the state’s ban against transgender people correcting their birth certificates was archaic, unjust and discriminatory.”

The ruling, he continued, “only makes sense. Essential identity documents should accurately reflect who you are, and the court recognized that the government cannot rob transgender people of this basic tool to navigate through life. With this change, transgender Idahoans will no longer be forced to represent that they are someone they are not and jeopardize their privacy and safety.”

Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit on behalf of two transgender women — F.V., currently a resident of Hawaii identified only by her initials, and Dani Martin, who lives in Idaho.

The lawsuit argued that denying transgender Idahoans the ability to obtain accurate birth certificates invades their privacy, liberty and freedom from compelled speech under the U.S. Constitution. For example, a Lambda Legal press statement noted, after F.V. displayed her birth certificate at a social security office, the employee referred to her as a “tranny,” and someone who overheard the comment called her a “faggot.”

Martin similarly had to argue with an Idaho DMV employee that she was a woman, and entitled to be treated as such, despite the fact that her birth certificate failed to reflect her gender identity.

According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, almost one-third of transgender individuals who showed an identity document with a name or gender marker that conflicted with their perceived gender were harassed, denied benefits or services, discriminated against or assaulted. Transgender individuals also are disproportionately targeted for hate crimes.

Read the ruling and more about the case here.

Read about birth certificate policies across the United States here.

Lambda Legal attorneys handling the case are Renn and Kara Ingelhart. They are joined by pro bono co-counsel Monica G. Cockerille of Cockerille Law Office, PLLC.

— Tammye Nash