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Trans activists sue Tennessee for refusing gender change on birth certs

Patrick Kelleher April 30, 2019
Trans activists sue Tennessee for refusing gender change on birth certs

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Four transgender activists are suing the state of Tennessee over an anti-trans policy that prevents them from changing their gender on birth certificates.

A lawsuit was filed on behalf of the transgender activists last week by Lambda Legal in the US District Court in Nashville.

The lawsuit argues that refusing transgender people the right to change their gender on birth certs violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the constitution.

It also argues that forcing a transgender person to identify with a sex that is not who they are violates their freedom of speech under the First Amendment.

Transgender plaintiff: ‘I deserve to have identity documents that reflect who I am’

Lambda Legal has successfully taken similar cases against Puerto Rico and Idaho in the past, and currently has similar lawsuits pending in Ohio and Kansas.

One of the plaintiffs, Kayla Gore—who lives in Memphis—said the policy means that she has to carry incorrect identity documents.

“In times where anti-trans violence is escalating, especially against trans women of color, I deserve to have identity documents that reflect who I am and don’t put me in harm’s way—the same as anyone would want for themself and their loved ones,” Gore said.

“The State of Tennessee does not get to define who I am by incorrectly identifying me as female on my birth certificate.”

– Jason Scott, transgender plaintiff

The other plaintiffs in the case are Jason Scott and two others who are going by the initials L.G. and K.N.

Scott said that a birth certificate is “an extremely important and necessary document for every aspect of life.”

Trans activists sue Tennessee for refusing gender change on birth certs
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty

The 47-year-old who now lives in Seattle, but is from Tennessee, continued: “I have had to put up with a lot since I decided to live as the man that I am over twenty-five years ago. The State of Tennessee does not get to define who I am by incorrectly identifying me as female on my birth certificate.

“Getting a correct birth certificate in alignment with who I am would be life-changing.”

Anti-trans policy is ‘archaic and discriminatory’

Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan said: “Tennessee’s birth certificate policy is archaic and discriminatory. By refusing to correct the birth certificates of transgender Tennesseans, Tennessee puts transgender people in harm’s way and violates our most fundamental constitutional rights.”

“47 states, DC, and Puerto Rico acknowledge the importance of allowing people to have access to essential government identity documents that accurately reflect their sex, consistent with their gender identity. It is time for Tennessee to join them.

“We won’t rest until we remove every governmental barrier to recognizing and respecting every transgender person’s identity in this country.”

More: activists, lambda legal, lawsuit, sue, Tennessee, Transgender, US

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