On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union sued Alabama state officials in a federal district court on behalf of three transgender individuals. The plaintiffs all suffer from gender dysphoria: Darcy Corbitt and Destiny Clark are men but want to obtain Alabama driver’s licenses that will describe them as female; John Doe is female but seeks to change her driver’s license to one identifying her as male.
In their lawsuit, Corbitt v. Taylor, the plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of Alabama’s Driver License Policy Order No 63. It provides “that an individual wishing to have the sex changed on their Alabama driver license due to gender reassignment surgery are required to submit to an Examining office or the Medical Unit,” either an “amended state certified birth certificate” or “a letter from the physician that performed the reassignment procedure.”
None of the plaintiffs have had “gender reassignment surgery,” although Clark had something described as “gender-confirming surgery.” Yet the ACLU’s maintains Alabama must issue the plaintiffs driver’s licenses based on their beliefs that they are actually the opposite sex.
Requiring gender reassignment surgery to obtain a description of them as the opposite sex on their drivers’ licenses, the ACLU argues, violates transgender individuals’ due process rights by forcing them to disclose sensitive information and pressuring them to undergo certain kinds of body-alteration surgery to secure the driver’s license statement they want. The ACLU also alleges that because Policy Order 63 targets solely transgender people, it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Our View Deserves Government Preference; Yours Doesn’t
The most significant allegations, however, come in the ACLU’s final count, which is premised on the First Amendment:
Policy Order 63 and Defendants’ practices violate the First Amendment rights of Ms. (sic) Clark and Mr. (sic) Doe to refrain from speaking by forcing them to disclose to each person who sees their license private information about their transgender status and their medical condition, and by forcing them to identify themselves to each person who sees their license by a gender that conflicts with their core identity. Defendants’ practices further violate the First Amendment rights of Ms. (sic) Clark and Mr. (sic) Doe to refrain from speaking by forcing them to endorse the government’s position on their own gender, as well as on the meaning of gender generally, through the license they must carry daily and show to others. The gender marker listed on Ms. (sic) Clark’s and Mr. (sic) Doe’s license conveys the state’s ideological message that gender is determined solely by the appearance of external genitals at the time of birth unless modified through certain surgical procedures, a message with which Ms. (sic) Clark and Mr. (sic) Doe vehemently disagree.
Policy Order 63 and Defendants’ practices violate Ms. (sic) Corbitt’s First Amendment rights to refrain from speaking by denying her (sic) access to an Alabama driver license unless she (sic) signs a form stating something is true that she (sic) knows to be false, and then carries a license that forces her (sic) to make unwanted personal disclosures, identify herself (sic) in a way that conflicts with who she (sic) knows herself (sic) to be, and endorse a government message about her (sic) own gender and gender in general with which she (sic) strongly disagrees.
The ACLU is oblivious to the import of these allegations. Rather than presenting a strong argument on behalf of their clients, the ACLU exposes the fundamental flaw underlying transgender “discrimination” claims that seek to force others to affirm a person’s perception of his or her sex. The government cannot force its citizens to identify others by a sex that conflicts with reality.
The government also cannot force citizens to endorse the view that sex is “assigned” at birth, that sex is mutable, or that sex can be changed. The government cannot force citizens to convey an ideological message that a transgender person is a sex other than his or her biological sex—a message with which many vehemently disagree. And a state cannot require its citizens to say something is true that they know is false or endorse a government message about sex perception with which they strongly disagree.
Yet that is exactly what the ACLU seeks to do in its lawsuit against Alabama, arguing “a person’s gender identity is what determines the gender a person lives as, and how the person should be recognized for all social and legal purposes.” Students attempting to force school districts to affirm their sex perceptions, and employees insisting their employers affirm their sex perceptions, likewise are demanding something the law cannot compel: That people profess a belief with which they strongly disagree, and which is false—that a male is a female, or a female is a male. The First Amendment will not allow that.
If the ACLU were not blinded by its own ideological bent, the “civil liberties” organization would recognize that it, in essence, is arguing that the government should not force transgender people to affirm what they believe is false, by demanding the government and everyone else affirm something that is false. The ACLU, however, is not alone in failing to appreciate the inevitable clash of rights the transgender movement creates: the courts have so far likewise disregarded the effects of government-mandated affirmation of sex perception on third parties’ rights—of speech and religious liberty.
In the end, there can be only one “victor.” Let’s hope in this case, it is the truth.