In the latest wave of pressure, a trans activist group have sued Tennessee lawmakers for the right to alter birth certificates.
Lambda Legal, a US LGBTI rights organization, took the fights to the courts last week, the Washington Times reported today (30 April).
The group have previously challenged Kansas and Ohio lawmakers. This time, the group are representing four trans individuals in a fresh lawsuit against the southeastern state.
What do they want?
Lamada Legal argued that Tennessee blocking changes to birth certificates can lead to an invasion of privacy. Trans individuals, in particular, face everyday situations in which they must reveal their birth status by showing their documents.
Currently, Tennessee policy does allow trans people to change their gender on their driver’s licence. But not on their birth certificate.
Kayla Gore, one of the four people challenging Tennessee’s policy, said she faced harassment at her workplace after showing her birth certificate, which registers her as male.
The 33-year-old said this caused ‘awkward, deeply personal, and invasive questions.’
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#BREAKING: We just filed a lawsuit on behalf of 4 transgender people challenging Tennessee’s policy prohibiting them from correcting the gender marker on their birth certificates. Our government does not get to define who we are, and transgender people deserve to hold accurate identity documents! Tap link in bio to learn more. . . . . . . . . . . #trans #transgender #tennessee #tennessean #tennesseans #lgbt #lgbtq #glbt #glbtq #glbtqi #lgbtqi #glbtqia #lgbtqia #civilrights
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‘Few things are as essential to one’s personhood as navigating the world as being able to correctly and accurately identify one’s gender,’ the four plaintiffs said.
‘A birth certificate is an extremely important and necessary document for every aspect of life,’ said plaintiff Jason Scott, 47.
A representative of the Tennessee Department of Health, which oversees state records, said the department declined to comment. Citing the new lawsuit.
The battles goes on
The Washington Times spoke to University of Buffalo law professor Michael Boucai. He said that the lawsuit has a high chance of success.
‘I think that even a very conservative judge can be persuaded that Tennessee’s outright ban violates transgender individuals’ right to privacy.
‘Not just their right to make fundamentally important decisions about their lives and identities, but their right to keep those decisions private.’
Previosuly, Lambda Legal have changed policies in Idaho and Puerto Rico. Courts ruled they violated the right to privacy for trans individuals.
However, as there is no nation-wide federal law on the area, each state has their own way of doing things.
For example, in order to change one’s documented gender, some states require a doctor to certify that an individual’s assigned gender is at conflict with their gender identity.
While others require affirmation that the individual has undergone gender-affirmation surgery.
LGBTI rights in Tennessee
As trans activists battle to have their legal documents in order, the LGBTI community in the southeastern state battle on.
Since 1977, the Tennessee state legilsature passed a birth certificate statue that prohibited the state from altering the sex on a citizen’s birth certificate. It is this legal barrier Lambda Legal wage against.
LGBTI Tennesseans lack state protections from discrimination, but do enjoy some anti-discrimination laws for gender identity within employment.
Hate crimes also cover being LGBTI, and marriage equality is enjoyed. But the right to change legal gender remains a barrier.