birth certificate
(Lane V. Erickson/Shutterstock)

Transgender People in Ohio Can Now Change the Gender on Their Birth Certificate; Tennessee Becomes Only State to Not Permit Such Changes

In a historic judgment, an Ohio court has ruled that the state must allow transgender individuals the right to change the gender marker on their birth certificate to match their gender identity. Ohio becomes the 49th state overall to pass such a law, leaving Tennessee as the one holdout state still blatantly discriminating against trans individuals when it comes to this essential issue.

Brooke Sopelsa of NBC News has reported that “the Ohio Department of Health will not appeal a federal court ruling issued in December [2020] that found the state’s ban on birth certificate gender changes is unconstitutional. The department is, instead, working on a process for people to request the change and expects to have it in place by June 1.”

“The December ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio came in response to a lawsuit brought by four transgender people born in Ohio,” Sopelsa reported. “The plaintiffs, according to court documents, were subjected to professional humiliation, verbal harassment and threats to their safety as a result of not having a birth certificate that aligned with their gender identity.”

While opponents of the law claimed that permitting changes to birth certificate gender markers would “undermine the accuracy of vital statistics or fraud prevention,” Judge Michael Watson didn’t buy the argument.

“The Court finds that Defendants’ proffered justifications are nothing more than thinly veiled post-hoc rationales to deflect from the discriminatory impact of the Policy,” he wrote in his final ruling on the case.

“While nearly every state now permits transgender people to change the gender marker on their birth certificate, the process for doing so varies from state to state,” Sopelsa noted. According to an analysis by LGBTQ think tank, Movement Advancement Project, 14 states, mostly concentrated in the South, either require proof of gender-affirming surgery or have an ambiguous policy that makes it more difficult to make such a change on one’s birth certificate.


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