MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s policy requiring a transgender person to undergo full gender reassignment surgery before they can change the sex on their driver’s license is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Friday.
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson said Alabama policy’s that people “can only change the sex designation on their driver licenses only by changing their genitalia” is unconstitutional. He directed the state to give new licenses to the three transgender women who filed the lawsuit “reflecting that they are women.”
The federal judge said the policy subjects people to harassment and even the risk of violence when they have a license that does not match their daily appearance. In 2019 arguments in the case, Thompson said Alabama was essentially marking people with a “scarlet T.”
“The alternative to surgery is to bear a driver license with a sex designation that does not match the plaintiffs’ identity or appearance. That too comes with pain and risk,” Thompson wrote. “Alabama therefore may no longer make people’s genitalia determine the contents of their driver licenses,” Thompson said.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the plaintiffs, has said Alabama is one of about nine states that require proof of surgery to change the gender identification on a state ID.
“I know who I am, and finally the state of Alabama will be required to respect me and provide an accurate driver’s license,” Darcy Corbitt, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement issued through the ACLU.
The Alabama attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
“The court rightfully saw that the state does not have a right to determine which medical procedures a person has, nor can they force surgery on an entire class of people,” Tish Gotell Faulks, legal director for the ACLU of Alabama, said in a statement.
During a previous hearing, Corbitt and others described discrimination faced when licenses didn’t match their appearance. Corbitt said a license clerk’s friendliness evaporated when she saw her previous Alabama license listed male under gender and then began referring to her as “it” and “he.”