Utah Supreme Court rules trans people can change name, gender on birth certificates
In what Equality Utah has called a landmark ruling for the transgender community, the Utah Supreme Court announced on Thursday its 4-1 decision that Utahns have the right to change the name and gender on their birth certificates.
It took over three years for the decision to be made in the case of re Gray and Rice, which was filed after a Utah judge denied the name change petitions of Sean Childers-Gray and Angie Rice.
This denial occurred despite the fact that both plaintiffs met the state’s legal requirements to make the change.
In the decision, Justice Himonas disparaged the judge who had refused.
“As for the district court‘s declaration that ‘some biological facts are not subject to voluntary modification,’ the reader must be clinically aware by now that the sex change we are discussing has less to do with biology than with identity,” he wrote.
In a statement, Chris Wharton, attorney for Childers-Gray and Rice, emphasized that “While the decision was a long time coming, there is nothing radical about the outcome—the right to be treated equally regardless of which county or judicial district you are in.”
Childers-Gray told Fox 13 that the decision will have a massive impact on transgender people in Utah.
“You aren’t just talking about a birth certificate. You aren’t talking about just a driver’s license or a passport. You’re talking about someone’s soul.”
In another statement, Candice Metzler of Transgender Education of Advocates of Utah celebrated the decision.
“Today, the State of Utah has taken a step closer to that ideal of ‘becoming a more perfect Union,”’ Metzler said.
“We have chosen to create a system that actually serves all who use it. We have chosen the health of our community by sending a clear message that transgender, intersex, and gender-diverse people have a place in our communities and state. This decision will go a long way in helping such people know they belong.”
This win comes at a time when the transgender community continues to face vicious attacks from Republican-controlled state legislatures around the country.
Over 100 anti-trans bills have been introduced in over thirty states, many of them targeting healthcare and athletic participation for transgender youth.
Though many have passed or are likely to do so soon, the tireless work of activists, organizers and advocates have led to the failure of some of these bills.
Across the country, activists and organizers rejoiced over the Utah win.
Today, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that #trans Utahns are able to change their name & gender marker on their birth certificates! This ruling was 3.5 years in waiting.
— NCLR – National Center for Lesbian Rights (@NCLRights) May 6, 2021
Wow! The UTAH Supreme Court ruled in favor of transgender people to get the correct gender on their birth certificate.
This is a great sign for human dignity and trans rights that the entirely Republican appointed Utah Supreme Court ruled correctly! 🏳️⚧️🏳️⚧️🏳️⚧️🏳️⚧️🏳️⚧️ pic.twitter.com/W4DTuyt964
— Brock Boone (@brockbooneLAW) May 7, 2021
Again, I'm so proud of Utah. This year our Legislature rejected 2 bills to restrict the liberty of transgender youth. Today, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that trans Utahns can affirm their authentic lives. This is what 'equality under the law' looks like. https://t.co/KmzBHLgwla
— Troy Williams (@TroyWilliamsUT) May 6, 2021
A Landmark Victory for Transgender Utahns!
The Utah Supreme Court affirms the right of trans Utahns to change their birth certificates. Congratulations to the legal team led by @chriswhartonslc. And so much love to plaintiffs @15to1montgomery & Angie Rice for your courage. pic.twitter.com/vjGzg1JEUg
— Equality Utah (@EqualityUtah) May 6, 2021