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Idaho board axes birth certificate gender rule

The Idaho State Board of Health and Welfare has scrapped a temporary rule requiring transgender minors to get a doctor’s approval before changing the gender listed on their birth certificate.

The Idaho Press reports that board chairman Darrell Kerby announced the rule was being vacated on Thursday. The move came after a closed-door executive session with attorneys, where board members learned the rule had actually required four votes to go into effect.

When they voted on the rule last spring, they believed it had passed with three “yes” votes, one “no” vote and one member abstaining.

The rule went into effect on a temporary basis in July, until it could be considered for permanent approval by lawmakers in the 2020 legislative session.

In 2018, a federal judge ruled that Idaho violated the constitutional rights of two transgender women who were denied permission to change the gender on their birth certificates to match their identity.

Idaho complied with the court order, but the Board of Health and Welfare created the rule requiring a doctor’s sign-off for minors a short time later. Previously, only parental permission was required.

The Department of Health and Welfare received public comments from numerous Idaho residents across the state who were upset that people would be allowed to change the sex listed on their birth certificates at all.

Meanwhile, attorneys for the women who sued in the first place objected to the rule, saying it would violate the judge’s order as well.

Boise Republican Sen. Fred Martin, the Senate Health and Welfare Committee chairman and a non-voting member of the state board, said he he’d hoped the rule would represent a compromise that state lawmakers could support.

He said some lawmakers want to propose “legislation that to me would be problematic, in requiring even tests of DNA or chromosome tests to determine the sexuality and that’s the only sex that can be on the birth certificate.”

Kathy Griesmyer of the American Civil Liberties of Idaho said such measures sounds “scary” and would likely be in conflict with the judge’s order.

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