ACLU, Lambda Legal Sue Ohio to Obtain Birth Certificate Change for Those With Gender Dysphoria

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio and the transgender advocacy group Lambda Legal have filed a lawsuit against the Ohio Department of Health and the Office of Vital Statistics in an effort to force the State to allow those with gender dysphoria to change the sex on their birth certificate.

The organizations claim that the State’s practice of declining to issue an amended document deprives the person of an “accurate” birth certificate.

“This policy is not only archaic and out-of-step with the rest of America, but also dangerous. Forcing transgender Ohioans to go through life with inaccurate birth certificates, a basic form of identification, unnecessarily exposes them to discrimination, harassment, and violence,” Lambda Legal Law Fellow Kara Ingelhart said in a statement.

In Ohio, those with gender dysphoria may change the sex on their driver’s license and state identification, but not their birth certificate. The ACLU and Lambda Legal believe this can be an issue because in instances where a person must present their birth certificate, it now exposes them as being “transgender.”

“Denying transgender people birth certificates that match their gender identity reveals private information in contexts where this information would otherwise remain undisclosed (e.g., at a new job), regardless of whether a person’s transgender identity may otherwise be known by others (e.g., to friends or family), and regardless of a person’s desire not to disclose that personal information,” the legal complaint reads.

“Such a mismatch discloses the fact that a person is transgender. This is profoundly personal information in which a transgender person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Disclosure of that information can seriously jeopardize a person’s safety, and subject the person to a risk of bodily harm,” it states.

The organizations have filed suit on behalf of four people who have sought to have their birth certificates changed, but were denied.

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“[T]he incorrect gender marker on Dr. Doe’s birth certificate exposed [him] to overt hostility when [he] first visited a social security office to correct the gender marker on [his] social security records. Upon seeing [his] birth certificate, a staff person loudly told [him] that the Social Security Administration could not ‘just change you from male to female based on your say-so,” the complaint outlines.

“A waiting room of more than one hundred people overheard the exchange, causing Dr. Doe’s transgender identity to be involuntarily disclosed,” it states.

The ACLU and Lambda Legal want the court to declare the State’s policy and practice unconstitutional and to enjoin the Department of Health and the Office of Vital Statistics from declining to issue amended birth certificates to those with gender dysphoria. It also asks that the birth certificates not provide any indication that the sex was changed.

Read the complaint in full here.

The Ohio attorney general’s office is reviewing the lawsuit at this time and will respond with legal argument.

Romans 9:20 says, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, ‘Why hast thou made me thus?'”

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