Media Trail: March 20, 2020

25

Indiana AG says state agencies can’t use nonbinary marker

WFYI in Indianapolis reports that Indiana agencies are not allowed to use an “X” gender designation on identification documents for residents who don’t identify as male or female, the state attorney general said.

On March 9, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill Jr. said in an official opinion that agencies must have strict direction from the state legislature to adopt the nonbinary identifier. Republican State Sen. Jim Tomes requested Hill’s opinion.

State law requires applications for driver’s licenses or state IDs to include information about the person’s gender.

Hill, a Republican, said the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and State Department of Health exceeded their authority when they briefly allowed nonbinary individuals to apply for a driver’s license, state identification card or birth certificate with an “X” marker.

“Administrative agencies like the BMV and the ISDH are creatures of the Legislature whose powers are limited to their authorizing statutes,” Hill said.

The BMV did not respond to Hill’s opinion, but it said it is reviewing his statement and figuring out how to proceed. An attorney general’s opinion is not legally binding.

Democratic State Sen. J.D. Ford, who is Indiana’s only openly gay state lawmaker, criticized Hill’s opinion in a statement released March 10.

“Why are we so against inclusion in our state? We are all human beings, deserving of dignity, and I applaud the BMV for recognizing that,” Ford said.

Hill noted that state law only authorizes Indiana residents to identify as male or female.

Utah House defeats proposal to study transgender treatments

The Salt Lake Tribune reports a proposal to study medical treatment for transgender minors has been voted down in the Utah House.

The proposal’s sponsor, Republican State Rep. Brad Daw, said he wanted to research the issue because some of the medications prescribed for transgender youth “give me great cause for concern.”

The bill was approved in committee, but failed in the House on March 9. Daw had previously said he would propose a ban on medical steps toward transitioning, but ultimately proposed researching the issue instead after hearing concerns it would target the transgender community.

His bill would have asked the Utah Department of Health to select one or more medical experts to study the care of transgender minors and certain hormone treatments.

The group Equality Utah applauded the defeat of the bill, and also thanked Daw for responding to the concerns of transgender people when he proposed a softer version of his original plan.

Advocates: Transgender woman sexually assaulted at ICE site

Advocates for a transgender woman seeking asylum say she should be released after she was sexually assaulted and harassed while being detained in an Arizona immigration facility with men for nine months.

Alejandra Alor Reyes, who is from Mexico, is suffering from PTSD and should be released on humanitarian grounds while she awaits an appeal in her asylum case, according to several groups, including ACLU of Arizona, Trans Queer Pueblo and Detention Watch Network.

They say her case is a further indication that transgender immigrants face unsafe conditions and that none are being held with members of the gender they identify with.

Reyes, 24, says she fled Mexico after suffering abuse and discrimination because she is transgender. Shortly before presenting herself at an official border crossing to seek asylum, Reyes was kidnapped and beaten, and part of her thumb was cut off, advocates said.

She asked for asylum in June and has been in custody since then, serving two stints_ one for a month, in solitary confinement, according to the advocacy groups.

Supporters are pleading with ICE to release her from custody while she appeals her asylum denial. They say the agency has violated its own policies by placing Reyes in solitary for longer than it should have.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it had offered to transfer Reyes to housing for transgender detainees in August but she declined.