The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the suit on Tuesday against the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency on behalf of three plaintiffs, claiming Alabama violates their rights by restricting access to driver’s licenses for transgender people by not reflecting their gender identity.
Alabama is currently one of nine states that require gender affirmation surgery (or a court order that also requires surgery) before allowing a person to change the gender marker on their driver’s licenses.
“The government has no business dictating what treatment transgender people get, especially as a prerequisite for a basic government service,” said Gabriel Arkles, the ACLU’s Senior Staff Attorney. “After all, it has nothing to do with how people drive.”
One of the plaintiffs in the suit is Darcy Corbitt, who grew up in Alabama but had moved to North Dakota. While living in North Dakota she had obtained a driver’s license, U.S. passport, and social security card that reflected her female gender identity. Upon moving back to Alabama for graduate school, Corbitt was denied a driver’s license based on her prior Alabama driving records. Corbitt also claims the clerk who had assisted her was courteous until she found out that Corbitt was transgender. The clerk then began referring to Ms. Corbitt as a “he” and an “it.” The clerk declined to issue Ms. Corbitt an Alabama driver license listing her gender as female. Ms. Corbitt left the office without an Alabama driver’s license.
The second plaintiff, Destiny Clark, claims Alabama officials asked for invasive information about her medical and surgical history. She also claims officials called her doctor's office without her consent to get detailed records. Clark was still denied a license reflecting her correct gender identity even after having gender affirmation surgery and providing a letter from her surgeon. The clerk had told her the proof was insufficient and would not tell her why.
The third plaintiff in the case, a transgender male, is not named for safety reasons. He was also denied a license reflecting his correct gender identity without first having gender affirmation surgery.
“In addition to endangering transgender people, Alabama’s policy — and other policies like it — violate the law. All people have a right to make their own health care decisions free from government coercion,” Arkles also said.
The lawsuit also states that “as a result of the state’s driver license policy, many transgender Alabamians cannot obtain a license that they can use without disclosing highly sensitive information, risking discrimination and attack, compromising their own health and well-being, and endorsing a message about their gender with which they strongly disagree.”