- Montana Governor Greg Gianforte has signed a law that defines gender as only male and female in the state.
- LGBTQ+ advocates argue Montana law denies legal recognition to non-binary and transgender people
- Health professionals say Montana law also ignores the existence of people born intersex, where people’s reproductive organs, chromosomes and hormone levels fall outside typical definitions of male and female. .
Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte has signed a bill defining the word “sex” in state law as only male or female — joining Kansas and Tennessee, which have similar laws that LGBTQ advocates say +, will deny legal recognition to non-binary and transgender people.
Health professionals say the laws also ignore that some people were born intersex – a term that encompasses about 60 conditions in which a person is born with different genitalia, reproductive organs, chromosomes and/or hormone levels. who do not fit typical definitions of male or female. women.
The bill’s sponsor said the change was necessary to clarify from a legal perspective that “sex” and “gender” do not mean the same thing.
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Montana’s bill “is an attempt to erase trans, non-binary, and two-spirit people from the code, thereby removing the rights, privileges, and considerations that trans, non-binary, and two-spirit people would have under the law,” it said. said SK Rossi last month, testifying against the legislation on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign.
“Bispirit” is a Native American term for people with both male and female spirits.
The bill, which Gianforte signed into law on Friday, was approved in a legislative session that also passed a ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors and saw transgender Democratic lawmaker Zooey Zephyr kicked off the floor. of the House, following a protest against Republican lawmakers. who had silenced him.
Other states have, or are considering, legislation similar to Montana’s, to define “sex,” which would prevent residents from changing identification tags on their birth certificates and driver’s licenses. The laws in Kansas and Tennessee are scheduled to go into effect July 1, while those in Montana would go into effect October 1.
Transgender people choose to change the gender on their birth certificates and driver’s licenses so that their documents match their identity.
Lauren Wilson, president of the Montana chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians, said the bill’s assertion that there are exactly two sexes is not medically true.
The bill defines a woman as having XX chromosomes and a reproductive and endocrine system that produces or would produce ova or eggs. The male is defined as having XY chromosomes and a biological system that produces or would produce sperm.
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The bill was amended to say that anyone who falls under the definition of male or female, “but for a biological or genetic condition”, would fall under the original determination of male or female.
“The added amendment to address intersex people also makes the bill more inaccurate,” Wilson said.
A bill before the Texas legislature has been amended to allow a delay in declaring a child’s biological sex if it could not be determined at birth.
Montana’s bill “has no scientific basis and seeks to reduce each of our existences to our reproductive capacity,” said Keegan Medrano, director of policy for the ACLU of Montana.
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The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Carl Glimm, said the legislation was needed after a 2022 court ruling in which a state judge said transgender residents could change gender markers on their birth certificates. birth. The ruling – which confused sex and gender – blocked a Glimm-sponsored bill the previous year that would have only allowed a birth certificate change if the person had undergone gender-affirming surgery.
The Montana Department of Health then passed a rule that no changes could be made to the gender listed on a resident’s birth certificate unless it was recorded incorrectly due to a transcription error.
A person’s biological sex cannot be changed, Glimm argued, when introducing his bill to the House Judiciary Committee last month.
“You can claim to be able to change gender or express your gender in a different way, but you can never change your biological sex,” he said.