The state health department of Kansas announced on Friday that it will no longer alter birth certificates for transgender people to reflect their gender identities, citing a new rule that forbids the state from formally recognizing those identities.
As a result of the state Department of Health and Environment’s decision, Kansas is now one of only a few states that won’t modify the birth certificates of transgender people.
It is one of the few states that does not alter the gender designation on a transgender person’s driver’s license.
These choices undo the measures that Democratic Governor Laura Kelly’s team implemented when she assumed office in 2019. They were in response to Kris Kobach, the state’s conservative Republican attorney general, who filed documents in court to implement the new law.
It was passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature despite Kelly’s veto, and it went into effect on July 1. It only uses a person’s assigned sex at birth to identify who is male and female.
Trangender residents of Kansas have also emphasized again and time again in interviews how difficult it is to use a credit card in stores, fly on airplanes, and deal with law enforcement when they have identification documents that don’t match their identities.
Furthermore, research indicates that transgender individuals who don’t have their identities validated, particularly young people, are more likely to experience depression and are at an increased risk of suicide.
Transgender Legal Challenges
When Kelly first asserted that her government could continue to alter transgender people’s birth certificates and driver’s licenses notwithstanding the new law, Kobach publicly reprimanded her. Even though she disagrees with the law, he claimed it is her responsibility to enforce it.
The new Kansas law, which is a component of a surge of laws restricting transgender rights in Republican-controlled state legislatures throughout the country, was based on a proposal from numerous national anti-trans groups.
Moreover, changing a resident’s gender on their birth certificate is prohibited in Montana, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Driver’s license alterations are similarly prohibited in Montana and Tennessee.
More than 900 Kansas people changed the gender designations on their birth certificates between January 2019 and June 2023, and over 400 changed their driver’s licenses. On both documents, a person’s “sex” is listed.
In a legal opinion published in late June, Kobach stated that the new law not only forbids such modifications but also calls for the state to undo earlier modifications to its records.
A transgender person can keep a birth certificate that has been modified and it is still valid, according to the Department of Health and Environment, but if another copy is issued in the future, it will return to listing the sex given at birth.
Transgender people were advised by LGBT rights activists to update their birth certificates and driver’s licenses in the weeks before to the new law’s implementation.
In the days leading up to the law’s implementation, there was an increase in requests for revisions.
Source: ABC News