montana health department A policy change was permanently introduced on Friday that prohibits transgender residents from changing the gender on their birth certificates, even if they undergo gender-affirming surgery.
The rule change, which took effect on Saturday, makes it so that someone’s gender can be changed only if it is incorrectly listed on their birth certificate for a clerical error, or if their gender is incorrect at birth. has been recognized. Supporting documentation will be needed in both cases, and in some cases, genetic test results.
The Governor Greg Gianfort (R) administration enacted a similar temporary emergency rule in May, which is currently being challenged in the courts.
The Department of Health has said the policy change reflects its belief that sex is a “biological concept” that cannot be changed, contrary to one’s gender, which it called “a social, psychological and/or cultural construct”. .
Resident expressed concern That the rule unfairly targets transgender individuals, that it would increase suicide rates, and that it conflicts with medical knowledge and science.
“I feel that my civil rights are already very limited, and the risk of discrimination and physical harm in my life has increased,” one resident, who was barred from changing his name and gender due to an emergency rule, said. local station KTVH After a public hearing earlier this summer.
health department public debate That the purpose of one’s birth certificate is to record vital information, including sex at birth, and that “having an inconsistent and federally issued ‘identity document’ issued by Montana would not present a problem for transgender individuals.”
The department also said it did not find evidence to support community members’ expressed concerns that rule changes could lead to an increase in suicides, although it acknowledges that suicides are higher in the transgender community in general.
The Montana Human Rights Network, a nonprofit that supports and advocates for marginalized people, called the department’s decision “deeply disturbing” in a statement. Montana Free Press,
“They have gone against the advice of physical and mental health experts, teachers, parents and members of the affected community,” said Sean Rigor, director of equality and economic justice at MHRN. “Montanan made his wish clear in the public comment process, and the justification given by the Gianfort administration for flying in the face of that wish can be described liberally as gaslighting and misleading.”
Gianfort signed a bill into law last year that would require residents to undergo a “surgical procedure” if they want to change the gender on their birth certificates. However, in April a judge temporarily blocked that law from taking effect. One issue was that the surgical necessity was deemed too vague.
The two plaintiffs challenging the law argued the high cost of surgical procedures and said that not having their gender identity on their birth certificate puts them at risk of embarrassment, discrimination, harassment or violence if they are not asked to present their certificate. is called for, The Associated Press informed of.