(Missoula Current) Two transgender women on Thursday filed a class-action lawsuit against the state of Montana challenging a policy that bars them and other individuals from changing the gender designation on their birth certificate.

The lawsuit, filed in Lewis and Clark County District Court, is also challenging a policy that doesn't allow transgender Montanans to update the sex listed on their driver’s licenses.

In 2021, Montana enacted SB 280, which only allows for changes in sex designation on birth certificates upon “receipt of a court order indicating that the sex of a person has been changed by surgical procedure.”

According to the plaintiffs, one identified as Jane Doe and the other as Jessica Kalarchik, the state has ignored a previous court order that blocked the state from enforcing SB 280.

Rather, they said, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services issued an emergency rule banning changes to sex designations on birth certificates. The rule has since become permanent, they said.

After finally being able to live my life openly as the woman I know myself to be, I am frustrated that my birth state, Montana, is forcing me to carry around a birth certificate that incorrectly lists my sex as male,” said Kalarchik.

She added, “I am being forced to use a birth certificate that is inaccurate and that places me at risk of discrimination and harassment whenever I have to present it. I live my life openly as a woman, I am treated as a woman in my daily life, and there is no reason I should be forced to carry a birth certificate that incorrectly identifies me as male.”

Kalarchik served in the U.S. Army for 31 years. She and other members of the suit are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Montana, and Nixon Peabody LLP. Together, they're seeking a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the state's regulations, policies and practices.

Once again the state of Montana has chosen to adopt a draconian policy that is clearly intended to marginalize transgender Montanans,” said Akilah Deernose, executive director for the ACLU of Montana. “The State of Montana clearly has not learned any lessons from the past few years, where Courts have repeatedly struck down unconstitutional laws targeting transgender Montanans.”