Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach has asked a federal judge to allow state officials to bar people from changing their birth certificates, a move aimed at enforcing a statewide anti-trans law that will take effect on next week.
In a court filing late Friday, Kobach, a Republican, requested that the judge strike down a federal consent decree that required state authorities to allow people in the state to make changes to their birth certificates, including the indicated gender. .
If the judge allows the request, people in Kansas will not be able to make such changes.
At a news conference Monday, Kobach announced his office’s formal legal guidance on applying parts of the new law. He said the state’s permanent birth certificate and driver’s license records would reflect a person’s gender at birth, regardless of whether that person had filed a request to change the gender on their birth certificate at some point before the new law enters into force.
“If you were a person who transitioned and got a birth certificate reflecting a different sex, that paper can stay with you. There is nothing in the law that requires someone to turn in a certificate that has been modified. However, the state’s data will reflect the original sex at birth,” Kobach said.
Kobach’s presentation comes just days before one of the most sweeping laws restricting the rights of trans people goes into effect on July 1. Prohibits transgender people from using bathrooms, locker rooms, domestic violence shelters, and rape crisis centers that are associated with their gender identities. .
The law, which was signed into law in April after Republican lawmakers overrode a veto by Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, goes further than similar laws in other states by legally defining the terms male and female based on a person’s reproductive anatomy at birth. . The law – SB 180 — also believes that the «separation between the sexes» in the places the law describes is designed to «protect» the «health, safety, and privacy» of the public and requires state agencies to identify people «at birth» as men or women for «accurate» data collection.
Advocates for and against the law have said it lacks a clear enforcement mechanism: The law does not change any criminal statutes, imposes no criminal penalties or fines, and does not allow people to sue another party for alleged violations.
That has led critics to predict that the law most likely direct outcome it will be about how the state maintains identification documents for transgender Kansas.
LGBTQ advocates and civil rights groups criticized the move.
“No matter how much Attorney General Kobach and the extremists in our state legislature want to, they cannot erase the fundamental protections the Constitution guarantees to all LGBTQ+ people in Kansan,” ACLU of Kansas Executive Director Micah Kubic said in a statement. release. «Mr. Kobach should rethink the wisdom, and sheer indecency, of this attempt to weaponize the authority of his office to attack transgender people in Kansas who are just trying to live their lives.»
The filing concerns a four-year consent decree that required Kansas to allow people with state-issued birth certificates to change those documents. The decree itself was the result of a 2018 lawsuit in which a group of transgender people sued Kansas, arguing that then-current policies that prevented them from changing their birth certificates were unconstitutional.
Federal courts struck down similar rules in Idaho and Ohio in 2020, though a federal judge in Oklahoma threw out a challenge earlier this year to a similar law that prohibited changes to birth certificates.
Rather than litigate the case, the state, after Kelly took office in 2019, agreed to a consent decree, a federally supervised agreement, under which the state was required to «provide certified copies of certificates of birth to transgender persons that accurately reflect their sex, consistent with their gender identity, without the inclusion of information that would, directly or indirectly, reveal an individual’s transgender status on the face of the birth certificate.
But Kobach, in his filing, said the state needed to be able to prevent people from changing their birth certificates to help with enforcement of the new law, and that it was «impossible to comply» with both SB 180 and the consent decree. .