Plaintiff Nyla Foster addresses a press conference; plaintiff Luc Bensimon (in hat) is behind her.
Transgender people in Kansas will now be able to change the gender marker on their birth certificate, thanks to an agreement reached by the state and trans clients represented by Lambda Legal.
The agreement, known as a consent judgment, was issued Friday evening by U.S. District Judge Daniel D. Crabtree. Under the judgment, the state must allow trans people born in Kansas to correct their birth certificate's gender marker by submitting a sworn statement, accompanied by a either a passport, a driver's license, or certification issued by a health care professional that confirms the person's gender identity.
The state's previous policy, barring trans people from changing the marker, violates the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Crabtree wrote in the order.
Lambda Legal had filed suit to challenge the policy last October on behalf of Nyla Foster, Luc Bensimon, Jessica Hicklin, and a client identified by his initials, C.K., plus an organizational plaintiff, the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project.
"I'm glad to see the state of Kansas has agreed to recognize us for who we are. It should have not taken a lawsuit to reach that conclusion. This judgment makes me feel safer and like my state finally recognizes me and respects me as a woman," Foster said in a Lambda Legal press release. "I am proud that transgender Kansans like me will no longer be forced into dangerous situations because their identity documents do not match who they are."
"As a transgender Black man living with a disability, I experience discrimination and embarrassment often, but a birth certificate inconsistent with who I am only made things harder. It is a huge relief to finally have an accurate birth certificate that is a true reflection of who I am," Bensimon added.
"This is a tremendous victory for all transgender people born in Kansas. By acknowledging that its policy prohibiting transgender Kansans from correcting the sex designation on their birth certificates was discriminatory and unconstitutional, the state of Kansas has done the right thing and has taken a huge step forward," said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, senior attorney at Lambda Legal. "This court-issued judgment builds not only on our recent court victories striking down similar policies prohibiting transgender people born in Idaho and Puerto Rico from having accurate birth certificates, but also upon years of advocacy by transgender Kansans. With this judgment Kansas will now finally be in line with the rest of the country, where already 47 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have acknowledged the importance of individuals having access to essential identity documents that accurately reflect who they are."
"After courts in Idaho and Puerto Rico found these categorical exclusions violate equal protection under the law and the right to privacy, Kansas's position was untenable. We look forward to the last two states with these archaic policies, Ohio and Tennessee, to follow suit," said Kara Ingelhart, staff attorney at Lambda Legal. The organization has filed suit challenging these policies.