Washington, D.C., residents will soon have the option to identify their gender as “X” on district-issued identification cards and drivers’ licenses. The mayor announced the change earlier this week, which is expected to go into effect on June 26.
The announcement comes just days after the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles announced that it would begin offering an “X” for “gender not specified” as an alternative to “M” (male) and “F” (female). That new policy officially takes hold on July 1.
The D.C. initiative was led by Whitman-Walker Health (WWH) and The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), and came about after a WWH Name and Gender Change legal client inquired about getting a non-binary gender marker on their Washington, D.C., ID card.
“We are thrilled to see DC and Oregon leading the way in advancing identity document policies which allow for transgender and nonbinary people…to have accurate ID that helps them function in their day to day lives,” NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling said in a statement. “This is a tremendous first step, which acknowledges the experiences and humanity of a growing segment of the population.” —
In addition to the new gender marker option, D.C. has also reduced barriers to making such changes.
“One of the best parts of this change is that the D.C. DMV is changing their policy to permit self-attestation of gender identity,” explained WWH External Affairs Manager Jewel Addy. “Previously, in order to change a gender marker on an ID or driver’s license, an individual would need a signature from a medical, social services, or other provider approving the gender marker change. As a result of our advocacy with the D.C. DMV, individuals seeking to change their gender marker will now be able to make the change without certification from a medical provider or any other individual.”
When staff at WWH and NCTE first reached out to the DMV, they learned the agency was already in internal discussions regarding non-binary gender markers. Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles spokesman David House told NBC News earlier this month that other states got a heads up about the potential for a third gender marker long before the state’s transportation commission had reached a decision on the matter.
As Oregon and D.C. are leading the pack in expanding gender options for ID cards, but New York and California are close behind.
NY lawmakers introduced legislation this week that would add an “X” gender marker to state-issued ID cards and drivers’ licenses.
Assistant Speaker of the House Felix Ortiz introduced the bill Monday in an effort to increase recognition of those who identify as something other than male or female.
“My bill makes an effort to respect and acknowledge individuals who do not identify in the stereotypical gender binary of male or female. Our governmental agencies should reflect the society we live in,” Ortiz said in a statement. “While this change may seem small, it is a step forward to change the rigid mindset often faced by many today.”
The California Legislature is considering a similar bill.