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Montana Health Department to Allow Trans People to Change Gender on Birth Certificates

'It’s unfortunate that the judge’s ruling today does not square with his vague April decision... '

(Headline USA) Montana’s health department announced this week that it would allow transgender people to change the sex on their birth certificates after initially defying a court order to do so.

District Court Judge Michael Moses ordered the department in April to stop enforcing a state law that blocks transgender people from changing their gender on their birth certificates unless they had undergone surgery. The department refused, and on Monday Moses issued another order accusing health officials of making “calculated violations” of his initial ruling. He warned he would consider motions for contempt based on continued violations.

The state engaged “in needless legal gymnastics to attempt to rationalize their actions and their calculated violations of the order,” Moses wrote. He called the state’s interpretation of his earlier order “demonstrably ridiculous.”

Shortly after Moses’s statement, the Department of Public Health and Human Services issued a statement saying it would comply with the order, even though the state disagrees with it. 

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Health department officials also explained that Moses’s initial ruling in April was vague, and that they believed they had the authority to keep enforcing the 2017 law.

“The department stands by its actions and analysis concerning the April 2022 preliminary injunction decision, as set forth in its rulemaking that addressed critical regulatory gaps left by the court,” said Jon Ebelt, spokesperson for the health department. 

Charlie Brereton, director of the department, said: “The Department thoroughly evaluated the judge’s vague April 2022 decision and crafted our final rule to be consistent with the decision. It’s unfortunate that the judge’s ruling today does not square with his vague April decision.”

Brereton did not say whether the state will appeal the decision or whether it will begin going through applications from transgender persons looking to change their birth certificates.

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