Story at a glance

  • A bill barring transgender people from changing their assigned sex passed the Idaho House Thursday.
  • The bill is meant to provide accuracy in government data for medical research and other studies.
  • It directly contradicts a federal ruling issued in 2018.

A bill to prevent transgender people from changing their sex on their birth certificates is advancing in the Idaho State Legislature, despite a federal court order implemented two years ago that prevents such restrictions.

H.B.509 argues that maintaining birth records with the sex a child was assigned at birth will provide more accurate documentation and maintain statistics that can later aid medical advances and studies. The text says that “there is a compelling interest in maintaining accurate, quantitative, biology-based material facts on Idaho certificates of birth that provide material facts fundamental to the performance of government functions that secure the public health and safety.” 

Introduced by Republican Rep. Julianne Young, the bill further argues that “biological sex is an objectively defined category that has obvious, immutable, and distinguishable characteristics” that are scientific fact and cannot be changed. 

A caveat to the law, however, is that a child's recorded sex can be changed, but only within a year following birth certificate filing.

Young underscores that this amendment is meant to sharpen government statistics that can be used to help provide “sex-specific medical treatment, services and policies,” according to the Idaho Statesman

“It is better to be correct than politically correct where human lives are concerned,” Young told the local outlet. 

The House passed the bill 53-16, despite a March 2018 ruling issued by U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale which stated that the state can't prohibit transgender individuals from applying to change the sex listed on their birth certificate to match the one they identify with. 

The District Court ruling came from a 2018 lawsuit where two transgender Idaho women sued the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare for rejecting their applications to change their birth sex on the basis of being transgender.

The court sided with the plaintiffs, stating that “a rule providing an avenue to obtain a birth certificate with a listed sex that aligns with an individual's gender identity promotes the health, well-being, and safety of transgender people without impacting the rights of others,” outlets reported

Fellow Republican Rep. Linda Hartgen told AP that the court ruling cemented her decision to vote against Young's bill.

“My job here is to protect all of the people of my district and the state of Idaho,” Hartgen was quoted as saying. “Not just those who look like me.”

A challenge has reportedly been filed following the House's passage of H.B.509 in Idaho federal court on both Young's bill and an earlier bill the House passed that would ban transgender females from participating in girls' and women's sports in public schools and colleges. 

Published on Feb 28, 2020