by Leander Milbrecht
The ruling of a federal district court in Idaho on Friday was a victory for queer activists. The court overturned a Republican-backed law that had received worldwide backlash with its regression. Since July 2020 it has banned transgender people in the northwestern US state from having their birth certificates adjusted.
In March 2020, Idaho legislators passed a bill, House Bill 509, which ruled that changes to gender markers were not allowed – making it impossible for transgender people to have their birth certificates changed. The only exception, but it was not much help: if a court order proves that the original sex entry was incorrectly recorded by “fraud, coercion or material factual error”.
The transphobic bill, which was heavily criticized by activists, claimed that changing a person’s biological sex on their birth certificate “affects the health and safety of all people”. It also said:
“…that biological distinctions between men and women are a scientific fact and biological sex is an objectively defined category that has obvious, unchangeable and distinguishable characteristics.”
Transphobia against the law…
On July 1, the law signed by Governor Brad Little came into force – although the plan was preceded by years of legal wrangling, which, after a similar bill in 2018, was a clear victory for the trans*community: in 2018, a federal court ruled that such a law was unconstitutional. The federal judges issued a permanent injunction stating that the Ministry of Health and Welfare in Idaho should not prevent transsexuals from having their gender entry aligned.
The activists* of the queer legal organisation Lambda Legal had ensured the 2018 ruling by filing a 2017 lawsuit and were also responsible for the new trial. On Friday, the Federal District Court overturned the law Lambda Legal had called “dangerous and archaic” and, according to the newspaper Boise Weekly, referred to the 2018 decision as grounds for the ruling. The queer activists* then celebrated their groundbreaking success.
BREAKING: WE WON! Idaho must allow transgender people born in the state to correct their birth certificates.
Anti-trans #HB509 passed earlier this year violates the court victory we won in 2018.
— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) August 7, 2020
Nora Huppert, a lawyer at Lambda Legal, said in a statement that the law had denied the existence of transgender people by removing their identity. She described the resilience of Idaho’s lawmakers as “astonishing”. They had fought for the law in direct defiance of several court orders.
“The court could not have been clearer: What was discriminatory in 2018 remains discriminatory today. Idaho officials may not block transgender people from obtaining identity documents that reflect who they are.”
Is the Trump-administration about to use transphobia in its election campaign?
In the United States, despite the Corona pandemic, the election campaign is in full swing. In most polls, Trump’s Democratic rival, Joe Biden, is leading the competition. According to reports, several Republicans seem to believe that Trump is planning an attack on the Trans* community to win back the support of conservative voters.
Terry Schilling, the conservative leader behind the American Principles Project (APP) think tank, is planning to run anti-trans advertising campaigns in Michigan. According to the US media agency Politico, he plans to attack Joe Biden for his support for trans rights. Schilling’s hope is that Donald Trump will jump on the anti-trans wagon. He made a statement to Politico:
“What I’m hoping is that once we release these ads and numbers start to move, the Trump campaign will see it’s a powerful issue that the Republican Party can use to its success.”
- 16140613632_dbdcdefa14_c: By: Lt Governor Brad Little / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
- trump-2171739: Graphic by: free to use / CC0
- 31629658028_dbec8a0ebe_k: By: Ted Eytan / CC BY-SA 2.0 / wikimedia.org
A ridiculous amount of coffee was consumed in the process of building this project. Add some fuel if you'd like to keep us going!