News (USA)

Idaho transportation dept. relaxes rules for transgender driver’s license changes

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Transportation Department this week agreed to new regulations allowing transgender individuals to change the gender designation on their driver’s licenses without a note from a surgeon.

The change comes after members of the state’s transgender community, through the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), complained that the previous policy violated their civil rights.

Commencing in April 2011, the state agency began requiring a signed surgeon’s note signifying the individual “had undergone a complete surgical change of gender.”

Earlier this year, two people said they were blocked from getting their driver’s licenses, based on this policy.

According to Vincent Villano, Director of Communications for the National Center for Transgender Equality, a Washington, D.C.-based trans advocacy group, only a fraction of people undergoing a gender transformation do so through a surgical intervention, others utilize hormone treatments.

The agency will now require a court order or affidavit from a doctor attesting to a gender change, but not a surgical requirement, according to a policy signed by director Brian Ness on Monday.

The ACLU said that people who are transitioning to a different gender say a driver’s license reflecting the previous gender creates the potential for “outing” in situations where it’s necessary to show proof of identity.

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“We’re glad that the state has recognized the important and legitimate needs of transgender Idahoans,” said Monica Hopkins, executive director of the ACLU of Idaho.

“All Idahoans should be able to get a driver’s license that correctly reflects who they are without disclosing sensitive personal information completely unrelated to their ability to drive. The state did the right thing in updating its policy,” said Hopkins.

Hopkins said that under the previous regulation, “you have a state agency basically setting a medical standard for something that isn’t a medical standard.”

“These are medical decisions that are made between a patient and physician or medical care giver,” she said.

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