National LGBTQ organization Lambda Legal has filed a lawsuit against the state of Kansas for not allowing transgender people to change their birth certificates.
The lawsuit argues that Kansas’ birth certificate policy goes against the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees to equal protection of the laws, privacy and freedom of expression.
According to the lawsuit, there is no specific statute that prevents the Kansas Department of Health and Environmental Office of Vital Statistics from making the change, but the defendants “enforce a policy, custom or practice that categorically prohibits transgender persons born in Kansas from correcting the sex listed on their birth certificates.”
Nyla Foster, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said that having a birth certificate with the wrong gender has caused problems with education and healthcare. She was even accused of committing identity theft.
“When your identification doesn’t line up and match up, you’re kind of looked at as suspicious,” Foster said.
“By not allowing transgender people like me to correct our birth certificates, the state complicates every aspect of our lives,” said Luc Bensimon, another plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Omar Gonzales-Pagan, a senior attorney for Lambda Legal, pointed out how much an inaccurate birth certificate can affect your life.
“It can determine access to education, employment, healthcare, banking, travel, obtaining other identity documents and even voting. It must reflect a person’s identity,” he said.
Theresa Freed, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, said that the department doesn’t have the authority to alter a birth certificate except to make small corrections, and that gender identity isn’t considered a minor correction.
Kansas, Ohio and Tennessee are the only states that don’t allow transgender people to change their birth certificates. Lambda Legal is also currently working on a case in Ohio.