Alaska sued in transgender driver's license case

July 18, 2011 6:53:45 PM PDT
The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the state of Alaska on behalf of a transgender woman, alleging that it denied her a driver's license listing her gender as female unless she provided proof that she'd undergone a sex change operation.

The lawsuit, which ACLU said was filed in state court in Anchorage Monday, states that denying the woman a license that accurately reflects her gender identity because she hasn't undergone surgery is unconstitutional.

"No one should have to disclose sensitive personal information or be forced to make major medical decisions in order to get an accurate driver's license," Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Alaska, said in a news release.

A message was left late Monday afternoon with the Department of Law's civil division.

According to the lawsuit, the woman, a pilot identified only as K.L., has lived her life as a woman for nearly two years. The lawsuit states she officially changed her name and is identified as female on her passport and other documents. It states that she receives hormone therapy and "could not imagine a circumstance in the future in which she would no longer identify as a woman."

"Inaccurate identity documents that do not reflect an individual's lived gender identity result in harassment, discrimination and even violence," the lawsuit said. "Likewise, a driver's license that does not reflect a transgender person's lived gender forces the involuntary disclosure of personal medical information."

The state had issued K.L. a license designating her sex as female but issued a cancellation order about a month later, the lawsuit claims. The order, according to the lawsuit, said her license would be cancelled unless she replaced it with one listing her gender as male or provided proof from a doctor verifying "a surgical change was performed."

K.L. requested an administrative hearing to appeal the cancellation order, and a hearing officer affirmed the cancellation after a finding that there was an "error" in the license, according to the lawsuit. As a result of that finding, the lawsuit was filed.


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