This court decision pushes Alabama one step closer to the modern age, whether they like it or not. (Sure enough, the state’s attorney general plans to appeal.)
Alabama is one of the eight remaining U.S. states that require transgender people to undergo gender-affirmation surgery before they can get a state-issued identification that lists their correct gender identity. But a federal court just ruled that requirement as unconstitutional.
The court ruling stems from a 2018 case involving three transgender state residents who were denied drivers’ licenses reflecting their gender identities because they hadn’t had “complete surgery,” a chest augmentation and a genital surgery, both of which can be time-consuming, expensive, and undesirable for some trans people.
“This policy makes it impossible for most transgender people in Alabama to obtain a license that they can use without sacrificing their privacy, safety, health, [and] autonomy,” the American Civil Liberties Union wrote. The policy also puts trans people between a rock and a hard place because either they can undergo a costly and invasive set of surgeries, go without an ID altogether, or get a license showing an incorrect gender, putting them at high risk of harassment and violence.
On January 15, the U.S. District Court for Middle Alabama ruled that the state’s driver’s license policy for trans people violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment because it discriminates based on sex, according to NBC News.
“By making the content of people’s driver licenses depend on the nature of their genitalia, the policy classifies by sex; under Equal Protection Clause doctrine, it is subject to an intermediate form of heightened scrutiny,” Senior Judge Myron Thompson wrote in his decision.
While the state tried to assert that its policy furthers a compelling government interest by helping provide “information related to physical identification” to police and ensuring that state IDs remain consistent with birth certificates, the court ruled that the policy places an unnecessary burden on trans individuals.
While the court’s decision requires to the state to give the three plaintiffs in the case IDs reflecting their chosen gender identities, the state attorney general has pledged to appeal the decision.
Written by Daniel Villareal, The New Civil Rights Movement. Image via NCRM.