Friday, May 7, 2021

Utah Recognizes Sex Change Designation Right

The Utah Supreme Court has upheld the right to change sex designation.

Today, we provide a plain-meaning interpretation of the duly enacted law allowing individuals to change their sex designations. In the process, we explain that Mr. Childers-Gray and Ms. Rice met the requirements—articulated by us today but rooted in common law and applied by Utah district courts and other authorities—for their sex-change petitions to be approved. Accordingly, we reverse and remand with instructions to enter orders granting their sex-change petitions.

The court majority responds to the dissent

Associate Chief Justice Lee‘s dissent disagrees on all fronts, contesting the relevant legislation and the historical practice of Utah courts. The dissent suggests that it is protecting the interests of the State. See, e.g., infra ¶ 195 (suggesting that our articulated standard ―will control all future proceedings in our Utah courts and will bind the executive branch of our government. . . going forward‖). Yet the State does not argue for the principles the dissent advances. In its amicus brief, the State either opposes the dissent‘s position or presents arguments for why we should not reach such a resolution. Nevertheless, we take care throughout our opinion to respond to the dissent‘s arguments, which we firmly reject.

From the dissent of Associate Chief Justice Lee, which notes the author's "personal, moral grounds" opposing the result

Yet this is not a case about personal interactions or individual morality. It is a case about government records, and the legal grounds for amending them. Those grounds are controlled by law. And the law in question leaves no room for the decision made by this court today...

I respectfully dissent from this decision. I explain my reasoning further in the paragraphs below. First, I develop the basis for the conclusion that we should not be resolving this matter in a proceeding in which there is no adverse party and no adversary briefing. Second, I demonstrate that the statute approving an order for a change to the designation of a person‘s "sex" on a birth certificate is speaking to biological sex and is not delegating to this court the power to establish an evolving standard of "gender identity." Finally, I close with some final observations about the nature of my objections to the extraordinary decision made by the court today.

The court's 128 pages of opinions is linked here. (Mike Frisch)

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