Rep. Ron Nate

Ron Nate

Most people who showed up at a public hearing in Idaho Falls Wednesday argued against letting people change their gender on their birth certificates.

“I feel compassion for those who want to change their gender, but this is a mental illness,” said Karey Hanks, a former Republican state House member from St. Anthony. “It is what it is. And we have accepted it as a norm.”

Idaho has allowed people to change their genders on their birth certificates since 2018, when a federal court said Idaho was violating the U.S. Constitution by not letting transgender people do so. Wednesday’s hearing was technically on a more specific rule, which was approved by the Department of Health and Welfare’s board of directors and will be reviewed by the Legislature next year, requiring both parental consent and a signed form from a doctor, psychologist or other such licensed medical practitioner for people under 18 to change their birth certificates “stating that in their professional judgment the requested change of sex designation accurately reflects the gender to which the registrant identifies.”

The hearing, which was the last of five on the rule held throughout the state, was held because enough people asked DHW for it. Seventeen people testified at Wednesday’s hearing, which was held at the state office building downtown. Of them, 14 argued against letting people change their birth certificates. Several said a birth certificate is a historical record, and should reflect a person’s genitalia at the time of their birth rather than a later identity.

“Changing one’s gender does not change the historical fact” of one’s birth, said Ron Nate, a former Republican state House member from Rexburg. Nate compared it to 1984, a novel by George Orwell about a dystopian future where a totalitarian government controls access to all information and, when it wants, changes the past.

“The government should never be a party to a lie,” he said.

Some objected to the fact that a federal court ruling had forced Idaho to let Idaho let people change their birth certificates.

“I think it is exactly insanity to take the values of the majority and impose the needs or the preferences of the minority upon them,” said Bonnie Egbert.

Kaye Katseansas said she is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the mother of a gay son. She said she has tried to help gay or transgender youth who were suicidal, and asked why the other people testifying were so against letting transgender people changing their genders when there are so many other problems in the world.

“They’re human beings,” she said. “Maybe they’re just here to teach us what loving and kindness and empathy is.”

Christina Baily, who said she is the mother of a transgender son, asked if anyone in the crowd had ever met a transgender person. She said her son, who was born female, had identified as male since he was a little kid.

“You’re all telling me today that you hate my children,” she said. “That they don’t deserve the same rights and liberties and respect that you all have.”

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.