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2024 Montana Primary elections

Lawsuit challenges Montana's identification policies for transgender people

A class action lawsuit is challenging Montana policies restricting transgender people from updating the gender markers on their birth certificates and driver's licenses.

The suit was filed by ACLU of Montana on behalf of two transgender women. They argue their constitutional rights to privacy and equal protection under the law are violated by recent restrictions placed on updates to gender markers on state issued identification.

Akilah Deernose, executive director of ACLU of Montana, said the policies force transgender people to carry inaccurate IDs.

“That puts them at risk of discrimination and harassment every time they have to present it,” Deernose said.

The suit asks the Lewis and Clark County District Court to overturn state law and policies from the state health department and motor vehicle division barring changes to sex designations.

Agency officials have said the policies aim to follow legislation passed in 2023, which defined sex as binary, excluding nonbinary, two-spirit and intersex people.

A spokesperson for the state health department said they do not comment on pending litigation. A spokesperson for Gov. Greg Gianforte said he stands by the bill he signed in 2023.

Ellis Juhlin is MTPR's Rocky Mountain Front reporter. Ellis previously worked as a science reporter at Utah Public Radio and a reporter at Yellowstone Public Radio. She has a Master's Degree in Ecology from Utah State University. She's an average birder and wants you to keep your cat indoors. She has two dogs, one of which is afraid of birds.
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