U.S. state of Idaho sued over trans birth certificate and sport laws

by Matthew Lavietes | @mattlavietes | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Thursday, 16 April 2020 18:42 GMT

Idaho was the first U.S. state to ban trans athletes, saying they have an unfair advantage

By Matthew Lavietes

NEW YORK, April 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - LGBT+ advocates sued Idaho over a ban on transgender people changing their birth certificates on Thursday, one day after another lawsuit challenged the U.S. state's ban - the first in the country - on trans women competing in female sports leagues.

Both laws were passed last month, as trans rights have become the latest flashpoint in a long U.S. battle over LGBT+ rights, pitting liberals opposing discrimination against social conservatives who believe that sex is immutable.

"It is incredible that Idaho, in the midst of a health pandemic, would push through this discriminatory law that jeopardises the health ... of transgender people," said attorney Kara Ingelhart of Lambda Legal, which filed Thursday's case.

The governor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Activists in several countries have raised concerns about governments introducing laws during the new coronavirus pandemic, when restrictions like curfews and lockdowns limit citizens' ability to participate.

Lambda Legal, which supports LGBT+ rights through legal cases, pointed to a 2018 federal court ruling, in which Idaho was ordered to stop discriminating against trans people by refusing to change the sex on their birth certificates.

"Essential identity documents should accurately reflect who you are. The court recognised that two years ago, and we ask only that it confirm what it already said," Ingelhart said in a statement.

Two other states, Ohio and Tennessee, do not allow people to change the sex on their birth certificates, according to the Movement Advancement Project, an advocacy group.

Wednesday's lawsuit, filed by advocacy group American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), challenged Idaho's Fairness in Women's Sports Act, as discriminatory and an invasion of privacy because of the tests required if an athlete's gender is questioned.

The backers of the law, which is due to take effect on July 1, say it is unfair for trans girls and women to compete in female sports leagues affiliated with the state's public school and higher education systems as they have a physical advantage.

Several other U.S. states, including Missouri, Texas, Georgia and Kentucky are considering bills that seek to block trans children from receiving gender reassignment treatment.

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(Reporting by Matthew Lavietes; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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