The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Alabama filed a federal law suit against officials of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) for depriving transgender people of driver licenses that reflect their gender. The lawsuit states that the Alabama government has violated the privacy, due process, free speech, and equal protection rights of Darcy Corbitt, Destiny Clark, and a third, unnamed plaintiff.
Currently, transgender Alabamans may only change their gender marker on a driver license if they have had certain gender-confirming surgery. This policy makes it impossible for most transgender people in Alabama to obtain a license that they can use without sacrificing their privacy, safety, health, autonomy, and dignity.
Gender-confirming surgery is an important form of health care that many transgender people want and need. Many other transgender people do not want or need it, though—and some who do cannot afford it. Transgender people’s gender identities are valid regardless of what health care they have had, and the government has no justification for meddling in these personal health decisions. Most states and the federal government do not require surgery for changing the gender marker on identification.
People in Alabama typically need their license on a daily basis. Transgender people, unlike others, have to get by without one, or use a license that shows the wrong gender and so puts them at high risk of harassment and violence. That’s discrimination, and it’s wrong.
Update: On January 15, 2021, the district court ruled that Alabama’s refusal to issue accurate drivers licenses to our clients was impermissible sex discrimination and violated the federal constitution. While our clients have now been able to update their licenses, the state has since filed a notice of appeal to the Eleventh Circuit court of appeals.
- Press release: ACLU sues Alabama for discrimination against transgender people
- Blog: The State Shouldn't Tell Us Who We Can Be
- Blog: How Alabama's Driver's License Laws Injures Transgender People