Federal judge dismisses lawsuit asking to change birth certificate sex in Tennessee
The judge said the plaintiffs did not prove that Tennessee's policy violates their constitutional rights.
A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by four transgender plaintiffs who argued that the state of Tennessee should allow them to change their biological sex on their birth certificates to match the gender they currently identify as.
Judge Eli Richardson, a Trump appointee, said in his 74-page decision late last week that it is not up to the "Court to say what Tennessee’s policy should be," but instead to decide whether the current policy violated the plaintiffs' constitutional rights, as they argued it did. Richardson said the plaintiffs could not prove that the policy violated their rights, and he dismissed the suit.
The plaintiffs, represented by Lambda Legal, had argued that denying transgender people born in Tennessee the ability to change their birth certificates violated the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection and Due Process clauses and it violated their right to free speech under the First Amendment.
Lambda Legal said it has successfully challenged laws surrounding birth certificates in Idaho, Kansas, Ohio, New York, North Carolina and Puerto Rico. Each of those cases resulted in transgender people being allowed to obtain birth certificates that reflect the gender they identify with.
Restrictions on birth certificate changes are still in place in North Dakota, Oklahoma and Montana, as well as Tennessee.
"Tennessee’s discriminatory birth certificate policy has not only gravely impacted my life, but also presents a roadblock for all transgender Tennesseans," plaintiff Kayla Gore said after Richardson's decision.
Lambda Legal said it is evaluating what steps to take next in the Tennessee case.