Kansas’ attorney general wants to keep trans people from intervening in his lawsuit over state IDs

Jul 20, 2023, 11:13 AM

Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach speaks to reporters following a hearing in his state-court laws...

Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach speaks to reporters following a hearing in his state-court lawsuit against the state allowing transgender people to change the sex listing on their driver's licenses, Thursday, July 20, 2023, in Topeka, Kansas. Kobach is trying to keep five transgender Kansas residents from intervening in his lawsuit against the state agency that issues driver's licenses. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

(AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Republican attorney general in Kansas is working to keep transgender people from intervening in his state-court lawsuit against changing the sex listings on their state driver’s licenses. His efforts already will block further changes until at least November.

Attorney General Kris Kobach, his legal team and lawyers for the Kansas Department of Revenue were in court Thursday to set a schedule for the lawsuit. The department’s motor vehicles division issues driver’s licenses and has changed the sex listing for more than 900 people during the past four years.

Kobach argues that changing driver’s licenses to reflect transgender people’s gender identities violates a state law rolling back transgender rights that took effect July 1. He sued two top Department of Revenue officials earlier this month after Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly announced that the changes would continue despite the new state law.

Five transgender Kansas residents represented by the state’s American Civil Liberties Union chapter are asking District Judge Teresa Watson to allow them intervene in the lawsuit. Kobach said Thursday he is opposing their request, and Watson plans to rule on it after an Aug. 16 hearing.

Earlier this month, Watson granted Kobach’s request to block driver’s license changes while his lawsuit moves forward. Both Kobach’s office and the Department of Revenue’s attorneys agreed it should stay in place at least until another hearing, now set for Nov. 1.

During Thursday’s hearing in Shawnee County, home to the state capital of Topeka, Kobach unsuccessfully pushed Watson to move ahead with a full trial of his lawsuit as early as next month.

“It’s a pretty cut-and-dried case,” Kobach told reporters. “The statute means what it says. They have a different interpretation of the statute.”

Because of Kobach’s lawsuit, Kansas is among only a few states not allowing transgender residents to change their driver’s licenses, along with Montana, Oklahoma and Tennessee. In a separate federal court case, Kobach also is trying to stop changes in the sex listings on Kansas birth certificates.

over Kelly’s veto.

ACLU attorneys argue that the new law violates transgender people’s rights under the Kansas Constitution, including their rights to privacy and bodily autonomy.

“When we’re trying to make this about something very simple like statutory interpretation, what we’re doing is ignoring the reality that transgender Kansans are going to face every single day in this state,” Sharon Brett, the ACLU of Kansas’ legal director, said after the hearing.

In interviews, transgender Kansas residents have said having a driver’s license with a sex listing that doesn’t match their gender identity complicates getting through airport security, dealing with a traffic stop or even using a credit card. They also have said interactions with others out them publicly as transgender — and potentially jeopardize their safety.

In a court filing, Kathryn Redman, a 62-year-old Kansas City-area resident, said that before she changed her Kansas driver’s license in 2021, she was subjected to “invasive pat downs in the genital area of my body” before getting on flights.

“I frequently received rude comments and I was always uncomfortable in public settings where showing my license was required,” she said.

Kobach said after Thursday’s hearing that the transgender people’s legal claims are premature because Watson hasn’t ruled on whether driver’s license changes violate the new state law. He said he sees the first task as considering the new law’s meaning.

“There will be more than adequate time for constitutional questions to be considered,” he said.

The Department of Revenue’s attorneys have argued that the new law conflicts with an older law specifically dealing with driver’s licenses and that the agency remains bound to follow the older one. The department supports allowing the transgender people to intervene in the case.

“We’re not in a position as the Department of Revenue to appropriately address those concerns,” Pedro Irigonegaray, one of the attorneys, said after Thursday’s hearing.


Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna

United States News

Associated Press

Group of homeless people sues Portland, Oregon, over new daytime camping ban

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A group of homeless people in Portland, Oregon, filed a class action lawsuit on Friday challenging new restrictions the city placed on daytime camping in an attempt to address safety issues stemming from a crisis of people living on the streets. The lawsuit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court alleges the […]

3 minutes ago

Associated Press

Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

WASHINGTON (AP) — ABC’s “This Week” — Shalanda Young, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget; Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y.; Chris Christie, a Republican presidential candidate. __ NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Preempted by coverage of golf’s Ryder Cup. __ CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

An ex-investigative journalist is sentenced to 6 years in a child sexual abuse materials case

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A former investigative journalist for ABC News was sentenced Friday to six years in federal prison for possessing and transporting child sexual abuse images. James Gordon Meek, of Arlington, Virginia, pleaded guilty in July, admitting in a plea agreement that he used an iPhone to exchange illicit materials during a chat […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Dad who won appeal in college admissions bribery case gets 6 months home confinement for tax offense

BOSTON (AP) — A former Staples Inc. executive whose fraud and bribery convictions in the sprawling college admissions cheating scandal were thrown out by an appeals court was sentenced on Friday to six months of home confinement for a tax offense. John Wilson, 64, of Lynnfield, Massachusetts, was sentenced in Boston’s federal appeals court months […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Court orders Subway franchise owners to pay workers nearly $1M – and to sell or close their stores

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal court ordered the owners of 14 Subway locations north of San Francisco to pay employees nearly $1 million in damages and back pay — and also to sell or shut their businesses, with any sale proceeds going to the Department of Labor. Federal investigators said franchise owners John and […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

2 Indianapolis officers indicted for shooting Black man who was sleeping in his car, prosecutor says

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A grand jury has indicted two Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers for shooting a Black man who was sleeping in a car parked outside his grandmother’s house, a prosecutor said Friday. Officers Carl Chandler and Alexander Gregory were indicted on battery and criminal recklessness charges in connection with the Dec. 31 predawn […]

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



When most diets fail, re:vitalize makes a difference that shows

Staying healthy and losing weight are things many people in Arizona are conscious of, especially during the summer.



At Ability360, every day is Independence Day

With 100 different programs and services, more than 1,500 non-medically based home care staff, a world-renowned Sports & Fitness Center and over 15,000 people with disabilities served annually, across all ages and demographics, Ability360 is a nationwide leader in the disability community.



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]

Kansas’ attorney general wants to keep trans people from intervening in his lawsuit over state IDs