Oregon Adds A New Gender Option To Its Driver’s Licenses: X
The headquarters of Oregon’s Driver and Motor Vehicles Division on Thursday in Salem, Ore. Oregon became the first state to allow residents to mark their gender as “not specified” on applications for driver’s licenses. Andrew Selsky/AP hide caption
toggle caption Andrew Selsky/AP
The change follows a ruling last year by an Oregon judge that allowed Shupe to legally identify as non-binary neither male nor female. The decision was believed to be the first of its kind in the United States. In considering the new rule for state IDs, the DMV listened to and read comments from people for and against the change. Only 12 opposed the change, the Oregonian reported. “People didn’t share their testimony,” Tom McClellan, the division administrator for the department, told the newspaper. “They shared their stories. They told us of their struggles so we would understand the need.”
“DMV Administrator Tom McClellan choked up as he read letters of support to the commission, including from someone who encountered an embarrassing situation while going through a body scanner at an airport, and the security officer didn’t know whether to push the blue button for a male passenger or a pink one for a female one,” The Associated Press reports.
As Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Kristian Foden-Vencil reported last year, several other countries recognize a third gender, including India, Pakistan, Australia and Germany. Earlier this year, the Canadian province of Ontario implemented the option of an X gender on licenses.
“There’s a little more truth and justice in the world today,” Hayley Gorenberg, deputy legal director of Lambda Legal, told the AP. She said that when people’s appearance doesn’t appear to match gender markers on ID cards, they “endure insults and psychological trauma that could largely be averted if they had an option to use a gender marker that does not contradict who they are.”
California’s state Senate passed a bill last month to add a third gender options on state IDs. But the California Family Council opposes the bill, arguing that “government documents need to reflect biological facts for identification,” the AP reported.
Commissioner Sean O’Hollaren told the Oregonian that he was happy about the change.
“I hope those who will use X as an identifier will feel an element of comfort moving forward,” he said. “It’s something we’re not only doing because legally our hand is forced. It’s something we should do because it’s the right thing to do.”