Montana will comply with a court order requiring residents to implement a process that makes it easier for residents to change the sex designations on birth certificates, the state health department said Monday, abandoning a recent effort to impose stricter rules on the process of changing records. .
“The department has received a court order to clarify the preliminary injunction and while we disagree with it, we intend to comply with its terms,” Jon Ebelt, a spokesman for the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, said in a statement.
In an order Monday, Judge Michael G. Moses blamed the department for a preliminary injunction issued in April that required the state to suspend enforcement of the 2021 law requiring transgender Montanans to undergo a “surgical procedure” if they wanted to change. to have the sex designations on their birth certificates match their gender identity.
Under a rule change approved earlier this month, it became almost impossible for transgender residents to change the gender on their birth certificate, now allowing changes only in very limited circumstances.
“Defendants apparently interpret ‘what existed before the enactment of SB 280’ to mean they have carte blanche to enact the regulations they want,” Moses wrote, referring to the 2021 law.
The judge called the department’s argument that the order put it in an uncertain regulatory situation “demonstrably ridiculous,” and said contempt motions would be “immediately reviewed” if officials failed to comply.
Ebelt said the department is “continuing its actions and analysis of the April 2022 preliminary ruling in accordance with its rulemaking to address critical regulatory gaps left by the court.” The department, he said, is “carefully considering the next steps in the case.”
It is not clear when the health department will begin processing applications to change birth certificates.
Under the new rule, which took effect in early September, the sex on the birth certificate can now be changed if the original certificate was incorrectly stated “due to a clerical error or data entry error” or “the individual’s sex was incorrectly identified on the original certificate and the department issues a correction statement and supporting documents. includes… including a copy of the results of chromosomal, molecular, karyotypic, DNA or genetic tests that identify the sex of the individual.
SB 280, the April 2021 law that two transgender Montanans are challenging in court, says that the gender on a person’s birth certificate can be changed with a court order stating that the person has undergone sex reassignment surgery.
Plaintiffs say the law violates their right to privacy and due process, as well as the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. They also argue that the law was vague and did not adequately describe the types of medical procedures required to meet the state’s definition of sex reassignment.