When issues of importance are on the line, the people deserve more than misleading half-truths. A recent article published by the Associated Press regarding changes to the sex identifier on Idaho birth certificates deserves clarification.
This article fails to accurately represent the federal court ruling in F.V. v Barron. It implies that Idaho was mandated to allow individuals to change the sex on their birth certificate and hints that even the requirement for a minor to have a signature from a professional before changing the sex identifier runs counter to this ruling. All rolled together, this paints a picture of helplessness on the part of state agents responsible for initiating these changes and allows them to conveniently side-step public objections. This is unacceptable.
In reality, Judge Dale ruled that Idaho could not “categorically deny applications” for changing the sex identifier and had to have an “avenue” by which these applications could be considered. Judge Dale did not say what the criteria or details of that process had to be. Nor does she, as a judge, have authority to dictate these details.
Constitutional authority over this rests with the legislature, which needs to take this issue up. Law enforcement, schools, prisons, and healthcare providers are among those who rely on accurate vital statistics. In addition, government relies on accurate information to fulfill one of its most basic duties: protecting the health and safety of its citizens. According to the National Research Council Committee on National Statistics, information about a person’s sex and other vital statistics help government diagnose and respond to public health crises and provide for national security. Inaccurate sex identifiers endanger the health, safety, privacy, and equal protection of all.
For now, the appointed Board of Health and Welfare has proposed temporary rules, but don’t let anyone pull the wool over your eyes. Adding requirements, like a doctor’s signature, was well within the scope of the ruling and the appropriate authority of the state. If this signature requirement was “controversial” it was only because Idahoans couldn’t believe that we are allowing people to change their sex--an immutable biological fact--on their birth certificate and were dismayed that a signature for minors was ALL that was being required.
This ruling is the epitome of judicial activism, with Judge Dale pushing a politicized agenda rather than following established law. Furthermore, the judicial process is not designed for making blanket decisions about public policy. F.V. v Barron addressed a very narrow claim: that two individuals had been denied the opportunity to ‘correct’ what they believe is ‘incorrect information’ on their birth certificates. It is irresponsible to construe Judge Dale’s ruling as the equivalent of broad legislative action without any consideration of or discussion about how changes to sex on birth certificates will impact other areas of public policy.
The general public deserves more than half-truths. State agents should not be allowed to hide behind a façade of helplessness. They should be accountable for their actions in regard to recent changes, and the people of Idaho should know that their representative legislature has both the authority and opportunity to take measured, decisive action on this important issue.