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Four transgender people sue Ohio for not allowing gender changes on their birth certificates

Four transgender people are suing the state of Ohio for refusing to allow them to change their birth certificates to match their gender identity. Three states, including Ohio, Kansas, and Tennessee, do not allow changes on birth certificates. (Scott Olsen/Getty Images)

Four transgender people are suing the state of Ohio for refusing to allow them to change their birth certificates to match their gender identity.

The lawsuit filed last week by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio claims that the state's refusal is an infringement on their constitutional rights, NBC News reported.

The plaintiffs include three men and one woman.

What's the story?

Ohio permits its residents to change their gender on state-issued driver's licenses and other identification cards but does not allow gender changes on birth certificates.

“Ohio’s practice, which each Defendant enforces, violates federal constitutional guarantees, including the rights to equal protection, due process, and freedom from compelled speech,” according to the lawsuit. “There is no government justification to support Ohio’s refusal to provide transgender people with accurate birth certificates matching their gender identity.”

Lambda and the ACLU allege that Ohio's law "is not only archaic and out-of-step with the rest of America but also dangerous," according to a joint news release.

Attorney Gabriel Arkles said in the release that the state is "forcing people to ‘out’ themselves" and exposes them to unfair discrimination, ranging from employment denial to verbal harassment to physical violence.

Stacy Ray, a plaintiff in the suit, told NBC that she applied for a job with the Transportation Security Administration, but she was denied a background check because the gender on her birth certificate and drivers license didn't match.

How many states allow gender change on birth certificates?

Twenty-one states allow gender changes on birth certificates only if a person has proof of sex reassignment surgery, according to Arli Christian, an attorney for the National Center for Transgender Equality.

“There are people who don’t want the surgery, can’t afford the surgery — so having that requirement sets an unreasonable bar,” Ray said. “Only about half the states allow transgender individuals to change the birth marker with an administrative process, and that’s what we are pushing for.”

The District of Columbia, along with 11 states do not require surgery to change birth certificates, while 10 states leave the decision to judges and state officials, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Three states, including Ohio, do not allow changes on birth certificates.

The plaintiffs in the suit are insisting they be allowed to have their birth certificates "corrected."

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