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Lawsuit Challenges Montana’s New Restrictions On Transgender Birth Certificate Changes

Demonstrators gathered for a "Rainbow Rally" at the Montana State Capitol Monday, March 15, 2021 to protest bills moving through the state Legislature that would impact the LGBTQ community.
Shaylee Ragar
Montana Public Radio

Two transgender Montanans are suing the state over a new law that restricts who can amend the gender marker on their birth certificate. It’s the latest of nearly a dozen lawsuits over policies passed during the 2021 Montana Legislature.

Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana, Amelia Marquez of Billings and an unnamed plaintiff argue the new law violates a transgender person’s right to privacy and equal protection under the state’s Constitution.

Before amending a birth certificate, the new law requires trans Montanans undergo and provide proof of gender-affirming surgery, and to appear in court.

ACLU attorney Akilah Lane says the new law is unduly burdensome, as not all trans people want to have gender-affirming surgery or can afford to go to court.

“The act presents transgender individuals with a Hobson’s choice of either, they disclose the contents of their private medical records, or alternatively, they out themselves everytime they have to show their birth certificates for employment, school or other purposes.”

Lane says this can lead to discrimination, harrasment or violence.

The law passed on narrow margins in the state Legislature with only Republicans voting in support. Gov. Greg Gianforte signed it into law. Republican Sen. Carl Glimm sponsored the bill, saying people shouldn’t be able to amend legal documents without significant reason.

The lawsuit was filed in Yellowstone County District Court.

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