IN Brief

Indiana Supreme Court denies birth certificate gender change in split ruling

By: - May 15, 2023 12:44 pm

Indiana Supreme Court members split on a motion to transfer, ultimately declining to hear a case concerning gender marker changes on birth certificates. (Photo courtesy of Indiana Supreme Court.)

The Indiana Supreme Court has opted not to hear two cases of transgender girls seeking to change their gender on their birth certificates.

By declining the cases, earlier appeals court rulings stand, meaning trial courts do not have the authority to grant gender change petitions for birth certificates unless the General Assembly codifies it.

Justices split in their decisions last week, with three justices – Chief Justice Loretta Rush, Mark Massa and Christopher Goff – denying the motion to transfer one case and two justices – Geoffrey Slaughter and Derek Molter – dissenting. In the second case, Rush and Molter dissented.

The first case centers around a nine-year-old transgender girl who argued that having the male designation on her birth certificate allowed her school to restrict her bathroom access and complicated her other health care proceedings, leading her mother to file for a gender change in Allen County.

The local trial court denied that motion, urging the family to wait in order “to make sure she is who she says she is.” An appeals court found that trial courts lacked the authority to grant such changes.

According to court rulings, some trial courts had granted petitions to the Indiana Department of Health to change one’s gender on their birth certificate since 2014, indicating a lack of consensus among trial court judges.

The second case involves another transgender girl from Orange County with a nearly identical legal journey where both the trial and appellate court denied the gender marker change.

Transgender youth have repeatedly been the focus of lawmakers, including a ban on gender-affirming health care that passed earlier this year as well as a bill requiring schools to “out” transgender students. In the previous year, the state prohibited female transgender athletes from playing on girls teams at public schools.


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Whitney Downard
Whitney Downard

A native of upstate New York, Whitney previously covered statehouse politics for CNHI’s nine Indiana papers, focusing on long-term healthcare facilities and local government. Prior to her foray into Indiana politics, she worked as a general assignment reporter for The Meridian Star in Meridian, Mississippi. Whitney is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University (#GoBonnies!), a community theater enthusiast and cat mom.