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Idaho pays biological males $300,000 in damages after preventing them from changing sex designation to 'female' on birth certificates

On July 1, 2020, a law setting restrictions on how to and who can change their birth certificates went into effect after being signed by Governor Brad Little.

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Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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The Idaho Board of Examiners has approved a $321,224 payment to plaintiffs that sued the state over a law that went into effect in 2020 which set strict criteria for changing birth certificates and barred transgender individuals from changing their birth certificate gender to match the one they identify as.

On July 1, 2020, a law setting restrictions on how to and who can change their birth certificates went into effect after being signed by Governor Brad Little. It includes a requirement that those seeking to change the gender listed on the document must first obtain a court order, and the law only allows those to seek this court order only if the listed sex was mistakenly entered, entered fraudulent, or under duress, according to the Associated Press.

According to Idaho Reports, the Board of Examiners, which is made up of the governor, attorney general, state controller, and secretary of state, approved the payment and sent the bill to the Legislature to be paid out that way.

The bill was sent to the Legislature rather than payed directly through the Constitutional Defense Fund because the board’s subcommittee recommended sending the request to the Legislature as a supplemental appropriation.

In 2018, US Magistrate Judge Candy Dale had ruled that laws banning birth certificate changes was unconstitutional.

She echoed this ruling in another one issued one month after the law went into effect in 2020, stating that the new law effectively did the same thing as the old one, and barred transgender individuals from changing their birth certificate gender.

"The plain language of the statute, as quoted, forecloses any avenue for a transgender individual to successfully challenge the sex listed on their Idaho birth certificate to reflect their gender identity," Dale wrote.

According to the Associated Press, Lambda Legal represented two biological males who identify as transgender and sought to change the sex designation on their birth certificates to female. It was this case that led to the ruling by Judge Dale.

"The advocacy group successfully argued the state’s ban on birth certificate changes for transgender people violated their constitutionally protected right to privacy, liberty and freedom from compelled speech," the AP reports.

"It is astonishing that the Idaho Legislature and Gov. Little plowed forward with resuscitating this dangerous and archaic ban in direct defiance of multiple court orders that repeatedly ordered the government to stop discriminating against transgender people," said Nora Huppert, an attorney with Lambda Legal. "What was discriminatory in 2018 remains discriminatory today."

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