Trans Told to Legally Keep Biological Gender on IDs

( – On Monday, March 11, a Kansas judge sided with Republican Attorney General Kris Kobach, upholding the state’s ban on changing the sex marker on identification cards and driver’s licenses. District Judge Teresa Watson reaffirmed her July 2023 decision, which barred the Department of Revenue from allowing transgender individuals to alter their biological sex on official documents.

The legal battle began with Kobach’s lawsuit against Democratic Governor Laura Kelly in 2023. This came after the state legislature passed a law (SB 180) suspending sex changes on ID cards. The court issued a temporary restraining order despite Kelly’s veto, leading to extended legal proceedings.

Kobach praised the ruling in a statement, calling it a victory for the rule of law and common sense. He said the court upheld the legislature’s intent to document biological sex at birth.

Watson’s 31-page memorandum addressed arguments from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), representing transgender individuals. The ACLU argued that the law violated the state constitution’s right to bodily autonomy, citing a 2019 Supreme Court decision on abortion access.

However, Watson disagreed, stating that driver’s license information doesn’t prevent transgender people from controlling their bodies or making health and family life decisions. She added that the Supreme Court ruling didn’t establish a right to maintain information on state-issued IDs.

Watson highlighted testimony from intervenors who said having an ID with a sex marker not matching their gender identity did not lead to severe consequences like violence or job loss. However, intervenors reported feelings of embarrassment or humiliation in certain situations.

Kansas joins Florida as the only two states currently enforcing such restrictions on state-issued IDs.

Meanwhile, D.C. Hiegert, an LGBTQ+ legal fellow at the ACLU, expressed disappointment with the ruling, foreseeing negative impacts for transgender individuals, including harassment and denial of services. The ACLU reiterated its position that the perceived harm to the state is outweighed by the significant effect on transgender Kansans forced to carry IDs that don’t match their gender identity.

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