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In defiance of past federal court ruling, Idaho lawmakers send bill banning transgender birth certificate changes to governor

'Biological sex is a real scientific fact, and it never goes away'

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The Idaho Senate has sent a bill to Republican Gov. Brad Little that would prohibit transgender people from changing the sex on their birth certificates.

According to KBOI-TV, the Senate passed the measure Wednesday evening by a party-line vote of 27-6 after debating it on Tuesday evening.

The legislative findings section of the bill — H.B. 509 — argues, "The purpose of documenting factual information on vital records is to help the government fulfill one of its most basic duties: protecting the health and safety of its citizens," and that "Allowing individuals to alter their vital records, including birth certificates, based upon subjective feelings or experiences undermines the government's interest in having accurate vital records."

"Biological sex is a real scientific fact, and it never goes away," GOP state Rep. Julianne Young told the Associated Press when the state's lower chamber passed the bill by a vote of 53-16 late last month. "No amount of surgery, hormones or other procedures can change a person's biological sex."

However, if Gov. Little signs the measure into law, it will undoubtedly kick of a new battle for the state, as its passage comes two years after a federal judge ruled against a previous state prohibition on transgender people changing the sex on their birth certificates on 14th Amendment grounds.

"A rule providing an avenue to obtain a birth certificate with a listed sex that aligns with an individual's gender identity promotes the health, well-being, and safety of transgender people without impacting the rights of others," U.S. District Court Candy Dale wrote in March 2018. Dale wrote elsewhere in the ruling that "Social transition includes changes in clothing, name, pronouns, hairstyle, and identity documents to reflect one's gender identity."

"Idaho lawmakers might as well try to tear down the federal courthouse if they have this much contempt for the rule of law," reads a statement from Lambda Legal Counsel Peter Renn, a member of the legal team that argued against the previous birth certificate policy. "They are explicitly defying a court order and exposing Idaho taxpayers to footing the bill for significant financial consequences – all while putting transgender people back in harm's way for harassment and even violence, and once again making Idaho a national outlier."

However, GOP state Sen. Jim Rice says that it was appropriate to pass the bill anyway, even if it does lead to a court challenge.

"Sometimes in the course of exercising legislative authority, the time comes to take an issue and put it through that process," Rice told the Idaho Press-Tribune. "That's the organized process by which we maintain ordered liberty under the Constitution. It is not an inappropriate action for a legislature to decide to do something that they know will go through that process."

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