The Wyoming Supreme Court is expected to rule on a case that would determine whether transgender residents can change the genders on their birth certificates.
The case could decide if the Laramie County District Court has jurisdiction to recognize a change of sex by a transgender woman, The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported Sunday.
The high court is also expected to decide whether the jurisdiction would comply with state statute and rules for the Wyoming Department of Health.
The woman, identified only by the initials M.H., filed to have her name and gender legally changed in April 2019.
The state health department said the request required a court ruling.
A Laramie district court judge said Wyoming birth certifications identify a person’s sex, not gender, and denied the petition because of a lack of jurisdiction.
The district court filed a brief arguing the Wyoming Legislature has not given the court the power to issue a gender change order, but the health department’s rules allow the sex on a birth certificate to be amended.
The court said it “could not usurp the power of the legislature to create statutory authority where the legislature did not establish.”
The woman’s lawyer said the district court left them in a “Catch-22” situation, and they hope the Supreme Court appeal will allow her to proceed.
“I’m representing a transgender woman who is exercising her rights under Wyoming law,” attorney George Powers said. “The statutes and law required her to get a court order to exercise those rights.”
The Legislature has not kept pace with changes affecting gender and vital statistics, said Democratic state Rep. Sara Burlingame, who noted some statutes have been on the books since Wyoming gained statehood.
“That law no longer fits in 2020,” Burlingame said. “We have wholly different issues.”
Current Wyoming law does not contain language recognizing same-sex marriage or recognize women can be police officers or firefighter.
Burlingame said, “You think a women never put a fire out?”
Burlingame said she hopes to bring future legislation to address gender issues in the law.
“We’re just doing what we’ve always done in Wyoming, which is stick up for our neighbors,” Burlingame said. “We don’t need to agree on all the particulars. We just take care of each other.”
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