Judge: Alabama can’t require transgender people to have surgery before changing driver’s licenses

Published 6:54 am Monday, January 18, 2021

A federal judge ruled that Alabama’s policy requiring transgender people to show proof of sex reassignment surgery in order to change the sex designation on their driver’s license is unconstitutional.

Prior to the order, transgender individuals could only get a license that accurately reflected their gender after they had sex reassignment surgery. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said the state’s requirement would ensure consistency in state records and provide a paper trail that could explain discrepancies between the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate and driver’s license.

US District Court Judge Mayron Thompson ruled that  “‘administrative ease and convenience’ is not a sufficiently important justification for a state policy based on sex.”

Forcing transgender individuals to present a license with a sex designation that does not match the way they present creates the potential for harassment,  Thompson said.

Citing violence statistics, Thompson said one-quarter of all transgender people who carry an ID that does not match their gender have been harassed when showing their ID.

One in six has been denied services and more than half have faced harassment or assault from law enforcement officers after learning a person is transgender, Thompson said.

Thompson found the policy violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.