Jacksonville woman among group that sues North Carolina over transgender policy

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WITN) – A civil rights organization, along with two law firms, has sued North Carolina over a policy focused on transgender people.

According to Lambda Legal, the civil rights organization that filed the lawsuit alongside Baker Botts LLP and Brooks Pierce McLendon Humphrey & Leonard LLP, North Carolina’s policy requiring transgender people to have undergone “sex reassignment surgery” in order to obtain an accurate birth certificate is “discriminatory.”

A press release from Lambda Legal says the policy discriminates against transgender people on the basis of sex and transgender status, invades their privacy and violates their rights to liberty and medical autonomy.

Also, the lawsuit argues that forcing transgender people to hold essential documentation with an inaccurate sex designation “infringes on their free speech under the First Amendment and also prevents transgender people from accurately expressing their gender identity.”

The release says plaintiff Lillith Campos is a 45-year-old woman “of transgender experience” who was born and currently lives in Jacksonville. Campos says she cannot afford sex reassignment surgery and her employer’s health insurance plan does not provide coverage for it, which would allow her to correct her birth certificate.

Campos adds that she feels like a second-class citizen and “less than” in the eyes of the state because she has incorrect documentation as a trans woman, denied the same rights as the rest of the population.

On its website, Lambda Legal calls itself a “national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.”

The organization says it filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina along with Baker Botts LLP and Brooks Pierce McLendon Humphrey & Leonard LLP.

In addition to Campos, two minor teenagers born in North Carolina are also plaintiffs in the case, according to Lambda Legal.

Lambda Legal says the two teenagers, named C.B. and M.D. in the press release, are also unable to obtain a birth certificate that accurately reflects their identity.

“Birth certificates are essential and foundational identity documents critical for people navigating life,” Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Lambda Legal senior attorney and health care strategist says.

Lambda Legal says it has previously successfully challenged “discriminatory restrictions” on transgender people’s ability to obtain accurate birth certificates reflecting who they are in Idaho, New York, Ohio and Puerto Rico. A challenge to Tennessee’s policy is pending in federal court.

Plaintiff M.D.’s mother Katheryn Jenifer says the state’s requirement for surgery is unrealistic and has created a barrier for her 14-year-old daughter to have a normal childhood.

More about the case can be found here and Campos’ complaint can be found here.

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