A judge in Montana has temporarily blocked a new state rule that bars transgender people from changing the gender on their birth certificate.
The state passed a law last year that required proof of surgery and the approval of a court in order to change the gender marker, whereas for the previous four years trans Montanans had been able to obtain a new birth certificate through a simple online form. Judge Michael Moses issued an injunction in April that stopped the enforcement of that law. The state Department of Public Health and Human Services, however, enacted a permanent rule last Friday that banned any change on the gender marker except to correct an error.
The American Civil Liberties Union and its Montana affiliate, representing transgender residents along with a private law firm, had asked Moses to block the new rule, and he did so Thursday, temporarily stopping its enforcement while the original court case against the law continues, the Associated Press reports. The state must now return to the online procedure in place since 2017.
“Moses said his April ruling had been ‘clear as a bell’ and compared the state’s subsequent actions to a person twice convicted of assault who tries to change their name following a third offense to avoid prosecution,” the AP notes.
“Isn’t that exactly what happened here?” he said. “I’m a bit offended the department thinks they can do anything they want.”
“We’re thankful the court saw the state’s discriminatory new rule for what it was: a desperate effort to circumvent the judicial process and target transgender Montanans,” said a statement issued by the national ACLU, the ACLU of Montana, and the law firm of Nixon Peabody. “Forcing anyone to carry documents that contradict their identity is unjust and unconstitutional, and such a rule marks transgender people for further mistreatment and discrimination. We’ll continue to fight this baseless law until no transgender person is denied this fundamental right.”