File-Ohio Birth Certificates

Books of birth certificates are archived in Ohio Department of Health Vital Statistics building, as seen Oct. 25, 2006, in Columbus, Ohio.

(The Center Square) – A federal court ruled Wednesday that Ohio must allow changes, or what proponents call corrections, to gender markers on birth certificates, leaving as Tennessee, for the time being, as the only state in the nation not to allow changes.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio struck down the policy that prevented transgender people born in Ohio from adjusting the gender marker on their birth certificate. The decision comes in a lawsuit filed two years on behalf of three Ohio women and one man.

“This is truly a victory for the LGBT community, in every aspect,” said Stacie Ray, one of the four plaintiffs.

The court, in siding with the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Ohio and Lambda Legal said the state’s birth certificate rule executed by the Ohio Department of Health and the Office of Vital Statistics is unconstitutional.

“Today’s ruling affirms that the state must recognize the dignity and true identity of every transgender Ohioan,” Elizabeth Bonham, staff attorney for the ACLU of Ohio, said. “It is incredibly frustrating that our clients faced years of unlawful discrimination, but today we celebrate this victory as an acknowledgement to their commitment to justice.”

Ohio had argued the rule was necessary to prevent fraud and keep an historically accurate record of its people.

In his ruling, Judge Michael Watson called the rule discriminatory and said the state’s arguments were “nothing more than thinly veiled post-hoc rationales to deflect from the discriminatory impact of the policy.”

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office told the Associated Press it was weighing whether to appeal.

“Finally, transgender people from Ohio will be able to correct their birth certificates so that this necessary identity document is consistent with their gender identities,” Kara Inglehart, staff attorney at Lambda Legal, said. “Accurate birth certificates are essential. They are foundational to our ability to access a variety of benefits such as employment and housing, and to navigate the world freely and safely, as who we truly are.”

When the suit was filed only Ohio, Tennessee and Kansas prohibited the changes. In June 2019, Kansas reached a consent agreement and was ordered to begin issuing corrected birth certificates.

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Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.