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KS Judge Bars Trans People From Being Able to Change Their Gender on Licenses

Legal groups have vowed to challenge the lawsuit that prompted the far right judge’s order.

A Kansas state judge has placed an injunction on a policy that allowed transgender and nonbinary people to change their driver’s licenses to reflect their true gender.

Since 2019, nearly 400 people in the state have changed their gender status on their licenses, after a federal order said that Kansas must grant trans people the ability to do so. In spite of a new state law that passed earlier this year and went into effect on July 1, defining sex as only “male” and “female” and being assigned to a person at their birth, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) said her administration would continue to allow license changes for those who requested them.

But state Attorney General Kris Kobach (R) sued members of Kelly’s administration, claiming that the new law disallowed the state from continuing the practice. On Monday, based on the claims in Kobach’s lawsuit, state District Judge Teresa Watson placed an injunction on state offices that handle the license changes.

Notably, medical experts largely agree that a person’s gender is not determined by anatomy or the sex they are assigned at birth.

“We’ve known that it’s not true for decades,” Joshua Safer, Executive Director of the Mount Sinai Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery, said in 2018.

Senate Bill 180, however, established through state statute that gender would legally be determined by what was written on a person’s birth certificate when they were born. Although Kelly vetoed the measure, the Republican-controlled state legislature overrode her veto and passed the bill into law.

Just over a week before the law was set to be implemented, Kobach filed his lawsuit, claiming that the practice of changing people’s licenses — which came about after a federal court ordered the state to allow such changes — was in direct violation of the state statute.

Judge Watson’s order compels the state Department of Revenue, which is under Kelly’s purview, to “immediately cease and desist from processing any requests by driver’s licensees or driver’s license applicants to change or display their sex in a manner that does not reflect their biological sex.”

The judge, who was appointed to her position by far right former Gov. Sam Brownback (R), claims that the issue is a “public safety concern” that creates an “irreparable injury” to the attorney general’s office.

Watson’s order lasts for two weeks. However, she can extend it upon its expiration if she believes there is a compelling reason to do so.

The ruling will undoubtedly be challenged, and Lambda Legal, an organization that is “committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights” of LGBTQ people, has said they will seek to have it overturned.

“We will vigorously oppose this gimmick by Attorney General Kobach. …Lambda Legal will not allow the Attorney General to nullify a binding, years-old federal judgment,” Lambda Legal counsel and health care strategist Omar Gonzalez-Pagan said last month.

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