Michigan AG finds birth certificate policy unconstitutional

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel addresses the media during a news conference, Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Lansing, Mich. She said her office will not consider a request from the University of Michigan to investigate sexual assault allegations against Dr. Robert E. Anderson unless they waive all privileges. (Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal via AP) (Matthew Dae Smith)

LANSING, Mich. – A Michigan law that requires people to complete gender-confirmation surgery to change their gender on their birth certificate is unconstitutional, state Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a formal opinion Wednesday.

The opinion means people who want to change their birth certificate can now without proof of surgery.

Nessel issued it after Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel asked the attorney general in February to examine the constitutionality of the 1978 law that requires a written statement from a physician confirming that gender-confirmation surgery has been completed.

Nessel found that the law violates the rights to equal protection and to due process.

In Michigan, parental information on birth certificates don't have to list biological parents, but can reflect whoever is going to love and care for the person, so birth certificates should be able to reflect a person's true identity, Nessel said in a news release.

“The law violates Michiganders’ most basic and fundamental protections under the Constitution,” Nessel said. “As written, it is a tool of intolerance that treats one group of people different from the rest of us by requiring thousands of residents to undergo expensive and invasive medical procedures in order to amend their birth certificates to reflect their true identity."


Anna Nichols is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.