D.C. to allow gender-neutral driver’s licenses

By : Lou Chibbaro Jr. OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL GAY MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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At the direction of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, the city’s Department of Motor Vehicles will begin allowing residents to choose a gender-neutral “X” identifier on driver’s licenses and other city identification documents on June 26.

The announcement on Tuesday by the mayor’s office of the soon to be available gender-neutral identification documents came on the same day that six members of the D.C. City Council introduced a bill that would enact the gender neutral I.D. policy proposed by the mayor administratively into city law.

The Nonbinary Identification Cards Amendment Act of 2017, written by Council member Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), would require the Department of Motor Vehicles to “permit applicants for a license, permit, or identification card issued pursuant to this act to designate their gender as ‘non-binary’ in lieu of ‘male’ or ‘female.’”

“The District has always sought to be a safe and welcoming place for our LGBT community, and today we are continuing to deliver on that legacy,” Nadeau said in a statement accompanying the proposed bill.

“Gender is a spectrum and some of our residents do not identify as male or female,” she said. “Current licenses force residents to conform to gender that doesn’t accurately reflect their identity,” she added. “This bill changes District identification documents so they can accurately reflect the needs of our residents.”

The bill was co-introduced by Councilmembers David Grosso, Robert C. White Jr., Charles Allen, Elissa Silverman and Mary Cheh. It was co-sponsored by Council members Jack Evans, Anita Bonds, Trayon White and Vincent Gray.

A statement released by the Department of Motor Vehicles says the mayor’s proposal will give applicants for city driver’s licenses, learner’s permits, or identification cards the option of marking on an application form an “M” for male, “F” for female, and “X” for gender non-binary individuals.

Amy Nelson, director of legal services at Whitman-Walker Health, said the mayor’s proposal, which is expected to take effect June 26, will make D.C. the first jurisdiction in the nation to have a motor vehicles department that will add an “X” gender identity marking for a government-issued driver’s license or identity card.

“Whitman-Walker Health congratulates D.C.’s DMV for being the leader in recognizing non-binary gender identities and making a third gender marker available to D.C. residents,” Nelson said.

Although Oregon became the first state in the nation to allow a third gender option on identity documents following a court decision in support of a non-binary resident in the state, the Oregon action won’t take effect until July 3, according to Nelson.

“We welcome this move by the mayor and our bill is complementary to her efforts,” said Tom Fazzini, a spokesperson for Nadeau. “Councilmember Nadeau’s bill would make this change permanent in the D.C. Code,” he said. “Since the mayor’s change is administrative, it could be undone by a future administration, however unlikely that may be.”

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