Attorney General Tong Defends Right of Transgender Americans to Have IDs That Match Their Gender Identity(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong today joined a coalition of 15 attorneys general, led by California, in an amicus brief in Corbitt v. Taylor in defense of the right of transgender Alabamians to obtain driver’s licenses that correspond with their gender identity. Under Alabama’s Policy Order 63, transgender Alabamians are unable to access driver’s licenses that accurately reflect the gender and sex with which they identify unless they have undergone “gender reassignment surgery.” In the friend-of-the-court brief filed before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the coalition blasts the patently unconstitutional policy and urges the appellate court to uphold the district court’s ruling finding that the policy was an impermissible form of sex discrimination.
“Discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression is wrong and barring transgender people from having driver’s licenses consistent with their gender identity causes unnecessary stigma, isolation and harm,” Attorney General Tong said. “This Alabama policy is unconstitutional and flies in the face of common sense and modern practices.”
Although gender-affirming surgery is an important form of healthcare, many transgender Americans do not want or need it — and some cannot afford it. No matter an individual’s reasons, they are still entitled to have a license that can be safely used without putting at risk their dignity and safety. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s policy prevents transgender Alabamians from having that chance. In fact, the policy is an extreme outlier among states and is unsupported by any legitimate governmental interest. Critically, it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The amici states have a profound interest in protecting all Americans against unconstitutional discrimination in any form — in particular, to help reverse and remedy the stigma and discrimination that transgender Americans have experienced for decades.
Moreover, many states across the country — including Connecticut — have successfully adopted policies contrary to Alabama’s, issuing driver’s licenses and state identification cards with updated sex designations without requiring applicants to undergo surgery. These policies help reduce discrimination and, in some instances, even violence. Used routinely when applying for jobs, patronizing restaurants and bars, and applying for housing and bank accounts, identification cards and driver’s licenses can have a direct impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of transgender Americans in their daily interactions with society. According to a recent Gallup poll, approximately 0.6% of all U.S. adults — or roughly 1.9 million Americans — identify as transgender.
In the amicus brief, the coalition of attorneys general asserts:
• Alabama’s Policy Order 63 fails scrutiny under any constitutional standard;
• The express surgery requirement is rare and out of step with modern practices;
• Driver’s licenses that reflect a transgender person’s gender identity serve state interests in lowering hate violence; and
• Alabama’s asserted interests are unsupported and contrary to federal law.
In filing the amicus brief, Attorney General Tong joins the attorneys general of California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the amicus brief is available here.