Updated Sep 15, 2022 - Health

Judge blocks Montana's anti-trans birth certificate law

Illustration of columns in the colors of the transgender pride flag.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

A Montana state judge on Thursday blocked a 2021 state law that would have barred transgender people from changing the gender listed on their birth certificate unless they have undergone gender-affirming surgery.

Driving the news: The judge ordered the Montana Department of Health and Human Services to reinstate a 2017 rule that said that a person could modify their birth certificate by presenting an affidavit or a form indicating that a person had transitioned — no surgery required, per court documents.

Yes, but: Montana's Department of Public Health and Human Services has vowed to ignore the judge's ruling.

  • "The Department thoroughly evaluated the judge's vague April 2022 decision and crafted our final rule to be consistent with the decision," said department director Charlie Brereton, per AP.
  • "It's unfortunate that the judge’s ruling today does not square with his vague April decision. The 2022 final rule that the Department issued on September 9 remains in effect, and we are carefully considering next steps."

State of play: The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Montana had filed a lawsuit challenging the law, arguing that it violates the equal protection clause of the Montana Constitution.

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Department of Public Health and Human Services director Charlie Brereton.

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