". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Kansas Judge Prohibits Sex-Changes on State IDs, Arkansas May Be Next

March 13, 2024

In late January, Florida decided that residents could no longer change the biological sex on their state-issued driver’s licenses. According to USA Today, this decision was a “target” against “transgender people.” Ash Orr, a spokesperson for the National Center for Transgender Equality, claimed that the measure “adds to Florida’s long list of harmful policies.”

Orr continued, “Ensuring everyone, including transgender people, have accurate official documents, such as driver’s licenses, is vital for upholding our institutional rights.” However, despite backlash from people like Orr, many continue to argue that keeping biological sex on state issued identification is “common sense.”

On Monday, Kansas District Judge Teresa Watson ruled to keep biological sex on IDs and added that the decision “does not violate the rights of individuals who identify as transgender.” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued that prohibiting sex-changes on IDs “would violate the state’s constitution,” which the Supreme Court ruled in 2019 (in light of abortion) “grants a right to bodily autonomy.”

Watson refuted the claim, stating, “Information recorded on a driver’s license does not interfere with transgender persons’ ability to control their own bodies or assert bodily integrity or self-determination.” She said it also does not stop them from making “their own decisions regarding their bodies, their health, their family formation, and their family life.”

According to Fox News, this decision came in light of Kansas’s SB 180, the Women’s Bill of Rights, which would prohibit sex-changes on IDs. However, after Governor Laura Kelly (D) vetoed the bill in 2023, Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach (R) filed a lawsuit. A temporary restraining order was put in place shortly after. But after Judge Watson’s ruling Monday, Kobach said it was “a victory for the rule of law and common sense.”

Due to the pushback from transgender activists and the ACLU, Watson made the reasons for her decision clear. First, she wrote in the 31-page memorandum that applying the 2019 SCOTUS ruling regarding bodily autonomy to the topic of state-issued IDs was “an unreasonable stretch.” She also added the ruling made no claim that “Kansans have a fundamental state constitutional right to control what information is displayed on a state-issued driver’s license.”

Arkansas may be the next state to follow Florida and Kansas’s lead on the issue. Arkansas Governor Sarah Sanders (R) announced on Tuesday her state will be pursuing a similar path. The Natural State previously allowed trans-identifying people to use “X” on their driver’s license instead of a biological sex, but the state is considering requiring that IDs “align with the gender on the birth certificate of the resident” — a decision Sanders also classified as “common sense.” She added, “As long as I’m governor, Arkansas state government will not endorse nonsense.”

Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for Education Studies at Family Research Council, commented to The Washington Stand, “I don’t know when we decided that government-issued documents exist to affirm the ideas we have about ourselves.”

She continued, “The claim that one should be able to change a birth certificate [or state ID] from male to female or nonbinary is as absurd as being able to change your date or place of birth.” Kilgannon also expressed that the ability to do this is not only “absurd,” but it is also a “dangerous practice.” But some states, she added, “have allowed it for nearly 20 years, even after security concerns that have expanded since 9/11.” 

Kilgannon emphasized, “I hope all other states follow the example set by Kansas and Arkansas to correct this self-imposed error.”

Joseph Backholm, senior fellow for Biblical Worldview and Strategic Engagement at FRC, also commented to TWS, agreeing the decisions are “definitely a victory for common sense.” He added, “The entire purpose of identification cards is to be able to identify someone. If you’re going to let people put whatever they want on their ID cards, it defeats the purpose of having that,”

Backholm concluded, “Many people are frustrated by the circumstances of their birth, but demanding the government allow them to lie on official documents as a way of pretending the truth isn’t the truth is a road to chaos, not kindness.”

Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.