Oregon on Thursday became the first U.S. state to allow residents to identify as neither male nor female on state driver’s licenses.
Under a policy unanimously adopted by the Oregon Transportation Commission, residents can choose to have an “X,” for non-specified, displayed on their driver’s license or identification cards rather than an “M” for male or “F” for female.
The policy change was cheered by supporters as a major step in expanding legal recognition and civil rights for people who do not identify as male or female. This includes individuals with both male and female anatomies, people without a gender identity and those who identify as a different gender than listed on their birth certificate.
The state’s Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division expects to start offering the option in July.
Transgender rights have become a flashpoint across the United States after some states, including North Carolina, have tried to restrict transgender people’s use of public bathrooms.
At the end of May, a federal court ruled that a transgender boy must be allowed to use the boys’ bathrooms at his high school in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The decision in Oregon comes a year after a Portland circuit court judge granted a request by Shupe to change gender from female to a third, nongender option.
That 2016 ruling prompted state officials to examine how to allow a third option in the state’s computer systems and how such a change would interact with the state’s gender laws.
During public hearings on the change, most comments were in favor, according to a summary by DMV officials.
A handful of people questioned the need for the third option and expressed concern that the change would complicate police officers’ efforts to identify people.
A DMV spokesman added the agency has no estimate of how many people might apply for the new IDs.
— by Terray Sylvester | Reuters