Facts Don’t Discriminate

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

If there is a culture war being waged, it is not the Idaho legislature waging it. Contrary to headlines you may have read, the Idaho Vital Statistics Act, H 509, does not ban transgender individuals from making changes to their birth certificates. This gender-blind bill addresses important constitutional questions raised by a federal lawsuit, F.V. v Barron. As required by that court ruling, it provides a uniform process which may be used by anyone to amend material facts on birth certificates. It also includes language establishing the important, and even compelling, interest of the state in maintaining accurate records and clear definitions in the law. It is a rational, science-based policy, drafted with the interests of all Idahoans in mind.

The one thing the Idaho Vital Statistics Act does NOT do is cede to an activist judiciary the legislative authority to redefine legal terms. Language matters-- and F.V. v Barron raised an elephant in the living room without ever directly addressing it. The court assumed, throughout the legal arguments, that biological sex and gender identity were the same thing. This is simply not true. Gender identity has nothing to do with biology, and equating ‘sex’ and ‘gender identity’ in the law undermines important functions of government and fundamentally impacts every sex-specific public or private policy or contract. The result is a seismic legal and cultural shift which intimately impacts every Idahoan.

Put simply, if sex is defined by subjective preference rather than biology, the terms male and female are neutered. By stripping the term ‘sex’ of its biological basis we leave everyone, from insurance companies and medical professionals to law enforcement, feminists, and pastors, without language to accurately communicate about biological differences. As the Women's Liberation Front (WoLF) wrote in a recent Supreme Court brief, “Legally redefining ‘female’ as anyone who claims to be female results in the erasure of female people as a class. If, as a matter of law, anyone can be a woman, then no one is a woman, and sex-based protections in the law have no meaning whatsoever.”

The Idaho Vital Statistics Act protects the health, safety, and privacy of all Idahoans and simply requires that vital records accurately and uniformly document existing verifiable material facts. Facts don’t discriminate. They just exist. Biology is not bigotry.