Jul 19, 2021

Transgenders Sue Over Montana Law on Birth Certificate Changes

The following was a message posted to the IAJGS (International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies) Records Access Alert mailing list and is republished here with permission:

In December 2017, Montana started to issue new birth certificates with an updated name and gender upon request of an affidavit from the individual, a government-issued ID showing the correct gender or a court order. No court order or proof of surgery is required. (

In 2021 a new law was signed, MT SB280,  which states that the sex designation on a birth certificate can only be changed if the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services “received a certified copy of an order from a court indicating that the sex of an individual born in Montana had been changed by surgical procedure.” The law suit further states, Montana’s law requires an individual to reveal their private medical information in a public court proceeding, and, as a result, “deprives that person of their rights to equality and privacy in violation of the Montana Constitution.”

On July 16, 2021, two transgender persons sued the date over the law that makes it difficult for transgender people to change their sex on their birth certificates. The suit says, the law prohibits trans people who don’t want or can’t afford gender-affirming surgery from obtaining accurate birth. The plaintiffs argue in their lawsuit that the measure violates their constitutional rights to privacy, equal protection of the law and due process. Being sued are: state of Montana, Governor Greg Gianforte, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and Adam Meier, the state health department’s director.

According to NBC News, Twenty-three states allow self-attestation to change a gender marker on a birth certificate and do not require surgery nor a court order, according to the Movement Advancement Project, a nonprofit LGBTQ think tank. Fourteen states allow an M, F or X, a nonbinary gender marker, on birth certificates.

Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

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