SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – On Thursday, the Utah Supreme Court delivered a big victory to the state’s transgender community on a case three years in the making. It ruled in favor of Angie Rice and Sean Childers-Gray, who petitioned for the ability to change their gender markers on their state documents such as birth certificates and driver’s license.
Rice and Childers-Gray’s long legal battle began when they initially brought their petitions to their local district courts but were denied. That’s when their attorney, Chris Wharton, came into the picture. He’s represented dozens of clients in similar petitions in other parts of the state that were approved. It was then in 2018 that Rice and Childers-Gray took their case to the Utah Supreme Court, which ultimately stated in its ruling that the district judge who declined their initial requests based his decision on a “legal mistake.”
The ruling doesn’t just impact the two petitioners but sets a consistent standard for all transgender individuals in Utah who submit a request to correct their gender on their legal documents. Advocates say when a transgender person’s gender doesn’t match who they are on their state records, it can have legal and emotional impacts. While the ruling brought an emotional response from the transgender community and its allies, they noted the fight for transgender equality doesn’t end here.
Rice and Childers-Gray joined ABC4’s Emily Florez for an IN FOCUS discussion to share their personal experiences of transitioning, the difficulties they faced from not having their gender on their legal documents match who they are, and their reaction after hearing the Utah Supreme Court’s ruling. Wharton discussed why he decided to represent the two petitioners, how gender marker petitions are handled in other states, and why it may have taken Utah’s high court so long to come to a decision.
To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Rice, Childers-Gray, and Wharton click on the video at the top of the article.
Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.