Republican Governor Greg Gianforte has signed into law a bill that defines the word “sex” in state law as only male or female. He joins Kansas and Tennessee, which have similar laws that LGBTQ+ advocates claim will deny legal recognition to non-binary and transgender people.
Medical professionals say the laws also ignore that some people are born intersex — a term that encompasses about 60 conditions in which a person is born with genitalia, reproductive organs, chromosomes and/or hormone levels that don’t fit typical definitions of male or female. female.
The bill’s proposer said the amendment is necessary to clarify from a legal point of view that “gender” and “gender” do not mean the same thing.
The Montana bill “is an attempt to erase trans, non-binary, and two-spirit people from the code, removing the rights, privileges, and considerations that trans, non-binary, and two-spirit people claim the law,” said SK Rossi last month. testifying against the legislation on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign.
“Two-spirit” is a Native American term for people with both male and female spirits.
The bill, which Gianforte signed on Friday, was approved in a legislative session that also includes a prohibition of gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors and saw transgender legislator Democratic Rep. Zooey Zephyr banned from the House floorafter a protest against Republican lawmakers who had silenced her.
Other states have or are considering enacting legislation similar to Montana’s to define “sex,” preventing residents from changing the identification tags on their birth certificates and driver’s licenses. Kansas and Tennessee laws are expected to go into effect on July 1, and Montana’s on October 1.
Transgender people choose to change the gender on their birth certificates and driver’s licenses so that their documentation matches their identity.
Lauren Wilson, president of the Montana chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians, said the bill’s claim that there are exactly two genders is not true from a medical point of view.
The bill defines female as having XX chromosomes and a reproductive and endocrine system that produces or would produce ova or eggs. Male is defined as having XY chromosomes and a biological system that produces or would produce sperm.
The bill was amended to say that anyone who would fall under the definition of male or female “but for a biological or genetic condition” would fall under the initial determination of male or female.
“The amendment added to address intersex people actually makes the bill more imprecise as well,” Wilson said.
A bill before the Texas Legislature was amended to allow delays in reporting a child’s biological sex if it could not be determined at birth.
Montana’s bill “has no scientific basis and seeks to reduce all of our existence to our procreative capacity,” argued Keegan Medrano, Montana’s ACLU policy director.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Carl Glimm, said the legislation was necessary after a 2022 court ruling in which a state judge said transgender people could change the gender markers on their birth certificates. That ruling — which mixed sex with gender — last year blocked a bill sponsored by Glimm that would have allowed for a birth certificate change only if the person had undergone gender-confirming surgery.
The Montana Health Department later passed a rule stating that changes could not be made to the gender listed on a resident’s birth certificate unless it was recorded incorrectly due to a transcription error.
A person’s biological sex cannot be changed, Glimm argued last month when he presented his bill to the House Judiciary Committee.
“You can claim that you can change your gender or express your gender in a different way, but you can never change your biological sex,” he said.