Oregon Officially Debuts Third Gender for Driver's Licenses

Lucy Bush
June 17, 2017

The new Department of Motor Vehicles policy, enacted Thursday, allows individuals to identify as "X" rather than "M" or "F" - a move that LGBTQ advocates say will serve to validate the identities of transgender, genderqueer, and intersex Oregonians.

Thursday's move isn't the only one in OR granting rights to transgender people with regard to identification documents.

The June 2016 landmark decision allowed Jamie Shupe to change her gender to non-binary, which refers to gender identities that do not fall into the binary categories of male and female. The decision was believed to be the first of its kind in the United States.

"It's exciting to see Oregon's Department of Motor Vehicles adopt this change".

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"[This] can create a lot of barriers going through everyday life", Arli Christian, state policy counsel for the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a phone call, "We found that almost one-third of transgender people who showed an ID that did not match their gender presentation were verbally harassed, denied benefits or services, asked to leave an establishment or even assaulted". The International Civil Aviation Organization, which develops passport standards, has recommended an "X for unspecified" option since 1996, according to NBC.

The Canadian province of Ontario implemented the X option earlier this year.

California is also considering a similar policy change.

OR might not be alone for long: In January, California lawmakers introduced a bill that would add a third gender option to licenses, as well.

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"I'm incredibly thrilled to be an Oregonian right now", said Gibbons, who identifies as non-binary. The commissioner went on, "It's something we're not only doing because legally our hand is forced". "This was always the right thing to do all along", he added.

Gender identity has become a major flashpoint across the U.S. in places like North Carolina, which passed a bill forcing students to use toilets according to the sex listed on their birth certificates.

But while acceptance of these ideas is growing in some pockets of the country, a pushback is emerging in other areas, as evident in the recent proliferation of bills seeking to curb transgender rights (legislators in 16 states introduced bills this year to restrict bathroom access for trans students).

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.

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