Trans Told to Legally Keep Biological Gender on IDs

No EXCEPTION for Trans on IDs - Judge Backs STATUS QUO

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On Monday, March 11, a Kansas judge supported Republican Attorney General Kris Kobach’s stance by affirming the state’s prohibition on modifying the sex designation on IDs and driver’s licenses. District Judge Teresa Watson upheld her previous ruling from July 2023, which prohibited the Department of Revenue from permitting transgender people to amend their biological sex on official paperwork.

The legal conflict commenced when Kobach filed a lawsuit against Democratic Governor Laura Kelly in 2023. This occurred subsequent to the state legislature’s enactment of a law (SB 180) halting sex modifications on ID cards. Despite Kelly’s veto, the court granted a temporary restraining order, resulting in prolonged legal proceedings.

Kobach lauded the decision in a statement, hailing it as a win for legal principles and practicality. He emphasized that the court upheld the legislature’s aim to record biological sex at birth. Watson’s 31-page memo tackled points raised by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which advocated for transgender rights. The ACLU contended that the law encroached upon the state constitution’s protection of bodily autonomy, citing a 2019 Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights.

Nevertheless, Watson expressed a differing opinion, asserting that the details on driver’s licenses do not inhibit transgender individuals from managing their bodies or making decisions regarding their health and family. She further noted that the Supreme Court’s decision did not establish an entitlement to retain specific information on state-issued identification cards.

Watson underscored testimonies from intervenors who indicated that possessing an ID with a sex marker incongruent with their gender identity did not result in significant repercussions such as violence or employment termination. Nonetheless, intervenors conveyed experiencing emotions of embarrassment or humiliation in particular circumstances.

Kansas now aligns with Florida as one of only two states presently implementing these limitations on state-issued IDs. In contrast, D.C. Hiegert, an LGBTQ+ legal fellow at the ACLU, voiced dissatisfaction with the verdict, predicting adverse consequences for transgender individuals, such as harassment and refusal of services. 

The ACLU reiterated its stance that any perceived harm to the state pales in comparison to the profound impact on transgender Kansans compelled to carry IDs that do not correspond with their gender identity.

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