Kansas will no longer change the birth certificates of transgender people to reflect their gender identities, the state health department said on Friday, citing a new law that took effect this year that defines male and female as a person’s sex assigned at birth.
The legislation, passed by the Republican-controlled State Legislature earlier this year, says that any school district, public school, state agency, department or office that “collects vital statistics for the purpose of complying with anti-discrimination laws or for the purpose of gathering accurate public health, crime, economic or other data shall identify each person who is part of the collected data set as either male or female at birth.”
Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, vetoed the measure, known as Senate Bill 180, in April, but the Legislature narrowly voted to override her veto. The law took effect on July 1, sparking legal battles between the governor and the state attorney general, Kris Kobach.
Shortly before the law was to take effect, Mr. Kobach, a Republican, argued that it required the state to stop changing gender markings on public documents and reverse previous changes.
Governor Kelly disagreed and directed state agencies to keep their policies in place, per a federal consent agreement from 2019 that requires Kansas officials to change people’s gender identities on birth records when asked.
Mr. Kobach filed a motion in federal court asking to modify the consent agreement.
In late August, a federal judge granted Mr. Kobach’s request and ruled that Kansas officials were no longer required to change birth certificates. In his ruling, the judge said that it would ultimately be up to a state court to decide if S.B. 180 was constitutional.
On Friday, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said that in accordance with the new law, it could “no longer process gender identity amendments to birth certificates.”
Those who had already changed their gender markings on birth records would be allowed to keep their updated certificates and they would still be valid, the department added, but in cases where a “certified copy of that record is requested, then the new copy must reflect the sex assigned at birth.”
In a statement on Friday, Mr. Kobach said he was pleased that the health department was “now complying with Kansas law.”
“KS birth certificates are state records that must reflect scientific fact as recorded by the doctor at the time of birth,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Governor Kelly reiterated her opposition to S.B. 180 as “wrong” and “bad for business.”
“As I’ve said before, the state should not discriminate or encroach into Kansans’ personal lives,” she said in a statement on Friday, adding: “However, I am committed to following the law. Agencies will comply with the courts’ orders and work to implement S.B. 180 as appropriate.”
Mr. Kobach also sued in state court in July to get the Kansas Department of Revenue Division of Vehicles to comply with the new law, and require that driver’s licenses list an individual’s sex at birth.
That lawsuit is ongoing, but in the meantime transgender Kansans are unable to amend their gender markings on driver’s licenses after a judge granted a request by Mr. Kobach to block new changes while the case continues.
The next hearing in that case has been set for January.