Republican Governor Greg Gianforte, in alignment with Kansas and Tennessee, has recently enacted a bill that establishes a narrow definition of the term “sex” in state legislation, specifically recognizing only male and female.
This legislation, contested by LGBTQ+ advocates, is believed to potentially undermine the legal recognition of nonbinary and transgender individuals.
Medical experts argue that the recently passed laws fail to recognize the existence of intersex individuals. Intersex is a broad term encompassing approximately 60 different conditions in which a person is born with genitalia, reproductive organs, chromosomes, and/or hormone levels that do not align with typical definitions of male or female.
The bill’s sponsor asserts that the change is necessary to differentiate between “sex” and “gender” from a legal standpoint.
However, critics argue that the Montana bill aims to eliminate the recognition and rights of trans, nonbinary, and two-spirit individuals under the law. SK Rossi, speaking on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign, stated that the legislation seeks to erase the legal standing, privileges, and considerations that trans, nonbinary, and two-spirit individuals deserve.
The term “two-spirit” is a Native American concept that refers to individuals who embody both male and female spirits.
In addition to this bill, Montana’s legislative session also witnessed the passage of a ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors. Furthermore, it involved the expulsion of transgender lawmaker Democratic Rep. Zooey Zephyr from the House floor after she protested against Republican lawmakers who had silenced her.
Several states, including Kansas, Tennessee, and Montana, have either implemented or are considering legislation similar to Montana’s. These laws aim to define “sex” in a way that prevents residents from changing their gender markers on important documents like birth certificates and driver’s licenses. For transgender individuals, altering these markers is crucial to ensuring that their identification aligns with their gender identity.
However, critics argue that the bill’s assertion that there are only two sexes is medically inaccurate. According to Lauren Wilson, the president of the Montana chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians, the bill’s definition of sex fails to account for the complexity and diversity of human biology. Female is defined as having XX chromosomes and reproductive abilities related to ovum production, while male is defined as having XY chromosomes and biological characteristics associated with sperm production.
An amendment to the bill was made to accommodate intersex individuals, stating that those who would fall under the definitions of male or female due to a biological or genetic condition would still be classified accordingly. However, opponents argue that this amendment only exacerbates the inaccuracies within the bill.
A similar bill in Texas was modified to allow for a delay in reporting the biological sex of a child if it couldn’t be determined at birth.
Critics of the Montana bill, such as Keegan Medrano, the policy director for the ACLU of Montana, argue that it disregards scientific evidence and seeks to reduce individuals’ identities solely to their reproductive capabilities.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Carl Glimm, justified the legislation as a response to a 2022 court ruling that allowed transgender residents to change gender markers on their birth certificates. Glimm’s previous bill, which would have required gender-affirming surgery for a birth certificate change, was blocked by the court. Subsequently, Montana’s health department enacted a rule stating that changes to listed sex on birth certificates would only be permitted in cases of transcription errors.
Glimm asserted during his presentation to the House Judiciary Committee last month that a person’s biological sex remains unchangeable, despite any claims to alter or express one’s gender differently.
In summary, these laws restricting gender marker changes on official documents have sparked controversy, with opponents highlighting their lack of scientific basis and reduction of individuals’ identities. Proponents argue that the legislation is necessary to address previous court rulings and maintain consistency in birth certificate information.
Source of Story ; AP News / Montana