News (USA)

Arkansas issues non-binary driver’s licenses & they’ve done it for years

J Gibbons, who is non-binary, testified in favor of Oregon's non-binary driver's license law.Photo: Basic Rights Oregon

“It was very affirming to me,” Zach Miller told INTO after they were able to get a driver’s license that has an “X” as a gender marker.

Miller is a non-binary activist in Arkansas, and they didn’t know that their state issued non-binary documents until friend and trans activist Beck Witt got one earlier this month.

And neither did the employee who Miller approached at the DMV.

“Hey, you learn new things every day,” the employee said, according to Miller.

“It makes it clear that we exist — that gender nonconforming, non-binary, intersex, and trans people exist,” Miller said.

Related: Washington, DC joins Oregon in offering third gender marker on drivers’ licenses

Miller and Witt’s stories have been getting attention online, and for good reason: very few states allow non-binary gender markers on state-issued ID, and the places that do are bluer than Arkansas.

Last year, Oregon, California, and D.C. passed laws allowing non-binary gender markers on state ID. Maine and Minnesota adopted similar rules this year, and the state of Washington allows non-binary gender markers on birth certificates, although not yet for driver’s licenses.

When Oregon passed its law last year, it was widely reported as “the first state to offer a third gender option for state IDs.” Wikipedia, as of publication, lists Oregon as the first state to do so.

But Arkansas adopted a similar policy back in 2010, without getting any attention from the press.

“Our official policy is to allow a licensee to change their gender as requested, no questions asked, no documentation required,” wrote the assistant commissioner of operations and administration in Arkansas in a memo in 2010.

“An Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration policy memo was issued to Revenue Office employees in December 2010, informing them that any licensee may request to change the gender listed on a license, no questions asked,” an Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration spokesperson told the Huffington Post.

“The policy was simply highlighted in a recent article, resulting in additional interest.”

“I think you will continue to see states move in this direction with regard to identity documents from state identification to birth certificates,” said Paul Castillo of Lambda Legal.

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