State court judge allows transgender Kansans to intervene in drivers’ license gender marker lawsuit

Friday, August 18, 2023

CONTACT: Esmie Tseng, Communications Director, ACLU of Kansas, [email protected]
Gillian Branstetter, Communications Strategist, ACLU, [email protected] 

TOPEKA, KAN. – Shawnee County Judge Teresa Watson has granted a motion for five transgender Kansans to intervene in Kansas v. Harper, a mandamus action brought by Attorney General Kris Kobach against the Kansas Department of Revenue in an effort to ban and reverse amendment of gender declarations on driver’s licenses.

“We are gratified that the court has seen that our clients have a vested interest in the outcome of this case, and should be entitled to make their arguments,” said Sharon Brett, Legal Director of the ACLU of Kansas. “For our clients and the entire community they represent, this case is about the privacy, dignity, and autonomy that comes from having accurate gender markers on their license, and about their right to be safe from the harassment they would face if forced to present inaccurate IDs that would essentially out them against their will in daily life. This case is about trans Kansans’ well-being and their ability to live freely and without government-sanctioned persecution — we look forward to further demonstrating that before the court.”

“We’re thankful the court has recognized that these arguments can and should be considered by the Court, and that it would be improper to move forward with this matter without hearing from the transgender Kansans at its center,” said Rose Saxe, Deputy Director of the ACLU’s LGBTQ & HIV Project. “The policy change being pursued by the Attorney General is a degrading and discriminatory affront to transgender Kansans’ liberty and their safety, and the voices of transgender Kansans in defense of their personhood shall not and will not be silenced.”

Judge Watson issued the order Friday morning, after holding a hearing on the motion to intervene Wednesday.

The motion to intervene in Kansas v. Harper was filed by the ACLU of Kansas, the ACLU, and Stinson LLP on July 11, 2023, just days after Attorney General Kobach filed the mandamus action asking the court to require the Kansas Department of Revenue to prohibit transgender people from changing their gender markers on their Kansas driver’s licenses. Judge Watson also granted the attorney general’s request for a temporary restraining order before KDOR could respond, which blocked the agency from allowing gender marker changes while the case goes forward.

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About the ACLU of Kansas: The ACLU of Kansas is the statewide affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU of Kansas is dedicated to preserving and advancing the civil rights and legal freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For more information, visit our website at