Critics of a proposed rule change regarding birth certificates criticized the policy at a public hearing Thursday. The proposal would make it virtually impossible for transgender people to have the sex changed on their Kansas birth certificate.
Stephanie Mott, who is transgender, says government documents that don’t match a transgender person’s identity make it more likely they’ll face discrimination and harassment. She says this policy would further stigmatize transgender Kansans.
“All of us live on the edge of society in a place where suicide attempts are common. These regulations are going to push us much further towards that edge and some people are going to fall off,” says Mott.
Mott has sued the state to change the sex on her birth certificate after she requested the change and was denied.
The regulation change is now being pursued by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, says KDHE spokesperson Cassie Sparks.
“What this change does is it brings the existing regulations into compliance with Kansas law,” says Sparks.
Sparks says the regulation, as it currently stands, conflicts with a 2002 Kansas Supreme Court ruling. In that suit the court said a marriage between a man and a transgender woman wasn’t valid under Kansas law.
An attorney for Mott, Pedro Irigonegaray, says it’s not appropriate to use the 2002 lawsuit to justify the policy change. He says that ruling should be updated following changes in laws regarding same sex marriage.
Irigonegaray says in past years Kansans had been allowed to change the sex on their birth certificate.
Stephen Koranda is a statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio.