Columbus, Ohio – Four transgender people who say Ohio won’t allow them to change the gender listings of their birth certificates to properly reflect their identities sued the state on Thursday.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the plaintiffs, said the state’s requirement prevents them from obtaining documents essential to everyday living and subjects transgender people to discrimination and potential violence.

“Ohio’s categorical bar stands in sharp contrast to the approach of nearly all other states and the District of Columbia, which have established processes by which transgender people can correct the gender marker on their birth certificate,” the lawsuit says.

The action, which lists the plaintiffs as three females and one male, claims the birth certificate rule imposed by the Ohio Department of Health and the state Office of Vital Statistics is inconsistent with the state’s practice of permitting transgender people to correct gender markers on their driver’s licenses and state identification cards.

“A birth certificate purports to tell the world about who we are,” said Susan Becker, general counsel for the ACLU of Ohio. “Ohio’s birth certificate policy, however, refuses to provide transgender individuals – and only transgender individuals – with a birth certificate that accurately conveys their gender identity.”

Becker said the lawsuit, filed by the ACLU, the ACLU of Ohio and Lambda Legal in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, could take a year or two to make its way through the courts.

The state attorney general’s office said it was reviewing the lawsuit, which asks the court to declare the birth certification policy unconstitutional and to prohibit the state from refusing to allow transgender people to make adjustments. The state Department of Health declined to comment.

The plaintiffs in the case are Stacie Ray, Jane Doe and Ashley Breda, women whose birth certificates indicate their sex as male, and Basil Argento, a man whose birth certificate indicates his sex as female.

Ray called the lack of an accurate birth certificate “humiliating.”


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