Politics & Government

Transgender activist sues state over refusal to change gender on birth certificate

Stephanie Mott is suing the state of Kansas over its refusal to update her gender on her birth certificate.
Stephanie Mott is suing the state of Kansas over its refusal to update her gender on her birth certificate. File photo

A transgender activist has sued the state of Kansas over its refusal to update her gender on her birth certificate.

Stephanie Mott, a Topekan who unsuccessfully sought a vacant seat in the Legislature last year, filed the lawsuit against the Kansas Department of Health and Environment last week.

“One of the first things I ever knew about myself is that I’m a girl, but to this day, the state of Kansas refuses to update my birth certificate to reflect who I truly am,” Mott said in a news release from the Transgender Law Center. “It’s so important for me that my birth certificate reflect my authentic self.”

KDHE denied Mott’s request to amend her birth certificate to list her gender as female, the Transgender Law Center said, adding that the agency has made this type of change to birth certificates in the past but stopped doing so in 2012, shortly after Gov. Sam Brownback took office.

Cassie Sparks, a spokeswoman for the agency, said Wednesday that KDHE does not comment on pending litigation.

Ilona Turner, legal director for the Transgender Law Center, called Kansas’ policy “an extreme outlier,” saying that every other state except Tennessee and Idaho will give transgender people updated birth certificates.

“Having accurate identity documents is not only a matter of human dignity but also an issue of safety,” Mott said in the news release. “I shouldn’t have to out myself as transgender every time I apply for a job or when I register to vote. … I just want my government to respect who I am and stop trying to make me live as someone I’m not.”

Bryan Lowry: 785-296-3006, @BryanLowry3

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