(Update, Nov. 16) A bill that would have blocked a proposed rule making it easier for transgender Montanans to change the sex listed on their birth certificates failed to pass during this week’s special legislative session.

The Montana House adjourned early Thursday morning without taking up Senate Bill 10.

MTN’s earlier coverage of the bill is below.


(HELENA) The Montana State Senate has approved a bill that would block a proposed rule from Gov. Steve Bullock’s administration, making it easier for transgender Montanans to change the sex listed on their birth certificates.

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Senate Bill 10, sponsored by Republican Sen. Al Olszewski of Kalispell, passed 29-19.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services has proposed letting transgender people update their birth certificates with a form certifying they have undergone a gender transition. Currently, that process requires a court order saying the person has changed their sex through a surgical procedure.

SB 10 would maintain the current policy. Supporters of the bill say the proposed rule is effectively a policy change, and substantial enough that the Legislature should have weighed in on it. They also argued other state agencies could have to make expensive changes to comply with the new rule.

“This is not about the policy; this is about the fact that policy was made at an agency level, looking only on itself, saying, ‘It’s not going to cost me much to put this on a birth certificate,’” said Olszewski. “I respect that and acknowledge their expertise in that area, for that division, but they do not have the right or the expertise to say it has no economic impact across all the other agencies.”

But Sen. Dick Barrett, a Democrat from Missoula, argued the potential fiscal impacts of the rule are not as serious as supporters believe.

“Absolutely nothing in this rule requires the Department of Motor Vehicles or the hunting license or anybody else to add a new gender category,” Barrett said. “There’s nothing about that at all.”

SB 10 will now go before the House for consideration.

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