ACLU files lawsuit against Michigan's SOS office on gender policy

A federal lawsuit claims Michigan makes it nearly impossible for transgender individuals to change their gender on driver's licenses.
A federal lawsuit claims Michigan makes it nearly impossible for transgender individuals to change their gender on driver's licenses.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the suit on behalf of six people who want the Secretary of State to change its current policy.

Codi Stone is one of six plaintiffs listed in the federal lawsuit filed Thursday morning. The 30-year-old transgender man lives in Kalamazoo wants something more from his state.

"I want to live in a state that respects me and all people," Stone said. 

Born as a girl, Codi lives as a man. He worries about the way people will react when he pulls out his drivers license and it identifies him as a woman.

"Are they going to see the marker? Are they going to say something to me? What are they going to say? Are they going to get upset? Are they going to decide they want to follow me out to my car and beat me up?" Stone said Thursday.

The ACLU filed the suit against Michigan's Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to challenge the policy. Jay Kaplan represents the ACLU and says the state makes it difficult, and in some cases impossible, for transgender people to change their gender on their drivers license...

"It's not fair and transgender people they pay their taxes, they're Michigan residents and they're protected under the constitution," Kaplan told FOX 2.

While federal policy doesn't require surgery to change the gender marker on a U.S. Passport or Social Security records, Michigan's current policy that was enacted in 2011 states that a transgender person must amend their gender on their birth certificate before they're allowed to change their gender on their drivers license.

"We contacted the Secretary of State's office. We had numerous discussions about this and the end of every discussion resulted in them saying they're not going to change this policy," Kaplan said.

Tina Seitz is a retired GM engineer and a transgender woman. She can't even amend her birth certificate because she is from Ohio. Even though she's had gender reassignment surgery, she can't change what it says on her license.

"It's extremely important to me and the entire community, that we address these issues which are nothing but blatant bigotry," Seitz said.

The Secretary of States office declined to comment on Thursday to FOX 2, citing pending litigation. 

Kaplan says they're prepared and believe they have a very strong complaint -- to make a change.

"We have very compelling stories from plaintiffs, all who have really been harmed based on this policy and we believe we will prevail," Kaplan said.

The state has 20 days to respond to this lawsuit and admit or deny the allegations or file a motion to dismiss.


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