In a major blow to LGBTQ+ rights, Montana has banned trans citizens from changing their birth certificates.
Over the last year-and-a-half, the state’s Republican Governor Greg Gianforte has targeted the trans community with an array of harmful bills.
In May 2021, he signed the ‘Save Women’s Sports Act’ into law – which bans transgender girls and women from participating in sports.
That same year, Gianforte introduced Senate Bill 280, which set up new hurdles for trans individuals looking to change their birth certificates.
Under the legislation, citizens are required to present a court order proving that they underwent gender-affirming surgery.
Now in 2022, the Gianforte administration is making it even harder for trans people to legally change their gender identity.
On 9 September, the state’s Public Health Department announced that birth certificates could only be adjusted if there was a “scrivener’s error or a data entry error” or if the individual’s sex was misidentified at birth.
Because of the rule’s strict requirements, trans people are effectively banned from changing the legal document to align with their gender identity.
The archaic new policy comes a year after two trans women sued the state over Senate Bill 280.
“Denying me an accurate birth certificate places me at risk of embarrassment or even violence every time I’m required to present my birth certificate because it incorrectly identifies me as male,” one of the plaintiffs said in a statement.
In light of the aforementioned lawsuit, Judge Michael Moses issued a temporary injunction on the legislation – which allowed trans individuals to proceed with changing their birth certificates as normal.
In response to the harmful anti-trans rule, LGBTQ+ activists have slammed the Department of Public Health and Gianforte in various statements.
“They have gone against the advice of physical and mental health experts, teachers, parents and affected community members,” said Shawn Reagor of the Montana Human Rights Network.
“Montanans made their will clear in the public comment process, and the justification the Gianforte administration has given for flying in the face of that will can most generously be described as gaslighting and misleading.”
Dr. Lauren Wilson, vice president of Montana’s chapter for the American Academy of Paediatrics, echoed similar sentiments in a statement to Montana Free Press.
“There is ample and strong evidence that the ability to socially transition (which involves living fully in their gender, and having matching documentation at school and work) improves mental health outcomes for transgender individuals,” she explained.
“Allowing transgender people to update their documentation has been shown to be beneficial to their well-being and safety, and doesn’t hurt anyone else.”
According to PBS, the court is set to hear arguments regarding the Senate Bill 280 case in the coming days.