LGBT Rights on the Docket

Ray et al. v. Himes et al.

Read the complaint in Ray et al. v. Himes et al.

Case Dates:
Thursday, 29 March, 2018 - ongoing

Ohio, Tennessee, and Puerto Rico are the only U.S. jurisdictions that do not allow transgender people to correct the gender marker on their birth certificates. A birth certificate is an identity document routinely used for many purposes. Ohio provides all other individuals born in the state with a birth certificate that accurately reflects their gender identity and other information. Transgender people, however, are denied this right. Because transgender Ohioans can correct their gender markers on other key identity documents including Ohio drivers’ licenses, and on federal documents such as passports and social security cards – and because transgender people are typically perceived by others accurately and consistent with their gender identity – an incorrect gender marker on their birth certificates discloses their transgender status. This unwanted revelation of extremely personal and intimate information causes transgender people to suffer discrimination in housing and employment, invasions of privacy, harassment, humiliation, stigma, and even violence.

Legal Theory:

Ohio’s refusal to provide transgender individuals with birth certificates that accurately reflect their gender violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, their rights of privacy and personal autonomy established by the Due Process Clause, and their First Amendment right to refrain from speaking by compelling them to disclose their transgender status and to identify with a gender that misrepresents who they are.


On March 29, 2018, we filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Plaintiffs are four transgender people born in Ohio who have suffered harm as a result of their incorrect birth certificates: Stacie Ray, Basil Argento, Ashley Breda, and Jane Doe. Defendants are Ohio Department of Health’s director Lance Himes and the Office of Vital Statistics’ chief and state registrar. On May 22 Defendants filed a Stipulated Notice of Extension of Time to respond to our complaint.
The parties held their 26(f) conference on June 25 and filed the Rule 26(f) Report on July 9. The initial pretrial conference with the court occurred on July 18.

On July 20 Defendants filed a Motion to Stay Discovery pending a ruling on Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, as well as an Emergency Motion for Interim Stay of Discovery pending a ruling on the Motion to Stay Discovery. We opposed both motions.

On August 2 the Court granted Defendants’ Motion for an Interim Stay but denied Defendants’ Motion to Stay Discovery. Following that, the parties exchanged initial disclosures. The Defendants provided written responses to our discovery request on November 9, but did not produce any documents responsive to our written discovery requests, citing the need for a protective order. On December 6, the Court entered a Stipulated Protective Order regarding the treatment of confidential documents during discovery, and Defendants began their production of documents. We await a ruling on Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.

We continue to pursue discovery in the case, including propounding and responding to document requests, and preparing expert testimony