KDHE to allow gender changes on birth certificates

Stephanie Mott
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW/AP) -- The Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment will now let Kansans change the sex designation on their birth certificates, Gov. Laura Kelly announced in a statement commending the move.

“It was time for Kansas to move past its outdated and discriminatory anti-transgender policy,” Kelly said.

According to the Governor’s Office, KDHE entered a consent decision last week to resolve a 2018 federal case filed by the Kansas Statewide Transgender Equality Project on behalf of transgender Kansans. It argued by not allowing such a change, the state was violating the 14th Amendment. It also argued byforcing a person to identify with a sex that does not reflect “who they are,” the state was violating that person’s right to Free Speech.

“This decision acknowledges that transgender people have the same rights as anyone else, including the right to easily obtain a birth certificate that reflects who they are,” Kelly continued.

Transgender activist Stephanie Mott had previously sued to change the gender on her birth certificate to female, but later dropped the suit, the Governor’s Office explained. Mott died in March.

“Her advocacy to make Kansas better is remembered in this important decision and in other progress she achieved for transgender people,” Kelly noted.

The Brownback administration policy had prevented transgender people from changing their birth certificates even after they transitioned, changed their names legally and obtained new driver’s licenses and Social Security cards, according to the lawsuit. Critics said the policy made it harder for transgender individuals to register to vote and even enroll their children in public schools.

Supporters of the Brownback administration’s policy said at the time that birth certificates are historical records that document the information known at the time. Brownback’s spokeswoman added that Kansas law allows only minor corrections in birth certificates and “changing the sex designation is not a minor change.”

The KDHE’s Office of Vital Statistics will now allow transgender individuals born in the state to get an amended, certified birth certificate reflected the change in sex designation.

In order to have it changed, the individual will need to submit a sworn statement requesting the change along with one of three items:

  1. A passport that reflects the person’s true sex; or
  2. A driver’s license that reflects the person’s true sex; or
  3. A certification issued by a healthcare professional or mental health profession with whom the person has a doctor-patient relationship. The certification must state, based on their professional opinion:
    • The true gender identity of the applicant; and
    • That it is expected that this will continue to be the gender with which the applicant will identify in the future.

According to Kelly’s Office, Ohio and Tennessee are now the only states that will not let a person identify in a way that is not consistent with their gender identity.