Washington, D.C. Introduces Gender Neutral Driver's Licenses

They're not available everywhere yet, but a change is coming.

Getty Images / Drew Angerer

Those of us who identify socially as being gender neutral, gender fluid, or genderqueer may soon have the chance to see our driver’s licenses reflect who we are.

In June, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that her constituents now have the option of a gender neutral signifier on their driver’s licenses. That means instead of one’s legal gender, which has historically been identified on your card as “F” or “M”, D.C. residents now have the option of using “X” instead.

Mockups of what the the license look like haven’t been released by the D.C. DMV yet.

Arli Christian from the National Center for Transgender Equality describes the surprisingly simple process of getting the change implemented.

“We reached out to the DMV six months ago and asked for a meeting to talk about updates to their gender marking policies,” Christian tells Inverse. “D.C. was one of the first to put into place a streamlined gender marker policy back in probably about 2007, so they were excited to stay ahead of the curve and talk modernizations with us.”

Christian and colleagues from the Center were pleased to hear that D.C.’s DMV was already planning similar changes to its policy. Representatives from their office had gone to a convention and met with their Canadian counterparts, who had made gender neutral IDs available back in 2016. Because the Canadians seemed happy with the decision, D.C.’s policymakers returned home with a new objective.

Mock-ups of Canadian gender neutral ID cards by Out Vision

Out Visions

So who can get an X instead of an M or F?

The short answer: anyone who wants one. Christian says that the gender neutral option can ensure privacy even for cisgender people, or those whose gender identity happens to fit their biological sex. “There’s a whole range of people who identify as transgender, so there will always be transgender men who prefer to have an ‘M’ on their ID, or transgender women who might prefer the ‘F’ to an ‘X’. Some people may not be interested in a neutral term.” So, the option is actually meant to help both people whose gender identity is non-binary and cis-gender people who want increased privacy, for whatever reason.

“The gender neutral marker is intended to be useful to a variety of audiences,” Christian says. “It’s important to have a neutral option so their ID doesn’t misrepresent them.” Christian and the Center even helped D.C.’s DMV tweak its language on both the gender self-designation form and the form’s list of instructions. The instructions’ read, in part:

Applicants should indicate on the form the gender designation that is the best fit for them. Please note transgender people may identify as male, female, or neither male nor female. Additionally, people of any gender may choose not to disclose their gender using an X marker.

The Israeli-designed gender neutral flag

Wikimedia Commons

Because the Center is a national organization, it actually offers a useful tool for anyone looking to change their gender identity on government documents. For example, in New York State, any change to a person’s gender on their driver’s license requires a sign-off from a health professional — the law specifies a psychiatrist or mental health professional, which is an uncomfortable, out-dated part of the process that Christian says D.C. was happy to be rid of. “We made sure D.C.’s policy was self-implemented, which means it does not require a sign-off from anyone.”

See also: Rio’s Olympics prep is not as friendly to athletes who aren’t cisgender

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