ACLU of West Virginia files federal lawsuit over state’s transgender birth certificate policies

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of West Virginia and Harvard Law School LGBTQ+ filed a federal lawsuit Thursday, calling West Virginia’s transgender birth certificate policies unconstitutional.

Last year, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that circuit court judges cannot order the Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) to correct gender markers on the birth certificates of transgender people.

ACLU Staff Attorney Taylor Brown says their lawsuit challenges two policies by the DHHR.

“The department refuses to correct gender markers for transgender people,” Brown said. “By the way that they amend West Virginia birth certificates, they effectively disclose one’s transgender status and we’re challenging both of those policies.”

Brown says the ACLU wants transgender people to have the ability to correct the gender markers on their birth certificates and have confidentiality when changing them.

After the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruling, Brown says they had no choice but to go to a federal court.

“Federal court was our next step and so that is why we had to take this route to enforce our client’s constitutional rights,” she said.

State Del. Caleb Hanna (R, Nicholas) agrees with the court’s ruling. Earlier this year, Hanna co-sponsored a bill that required high school students wishing to participate in athletics events, play according to their sex at birth. He believes someone shouldn’t be able to change the gender on their birth certificate.

“I myself am in support of making sure that male and female are the only genders on a birth certificate that’s offered in West Virginia,” he said.

But Brown says this lawsuit is about basic civil rights.

“This is so important because for transgender people, they need identity documents that accurately reflect who they are and do not misgender them and do not misname them,” she said.

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