Most DMVs are the last place you want to stand in line. But, come July 3, people may be queuing up in Oregon to get a new driver’s license that more accurately reflects their gender identity.
Oregon is now the first state to offer a third gender option, an X for “not specified,” on state IDs. It’s for people who don’t want to choose male or female.
“It’s exciting to see Oregon’s Department of Motor Vehicles adopt this change,” said Nancy Haque, co-executive director of Basic Rights Oregon, in a statement. “We know gender is a spectrum and some people don’t identify as male or female. Our lives are so gendered, which is why it’s important that driver licenses and other forms of IDs recognize people who are non-binary. Removing barriers for people is critical to helping all of us live healthy, productive lives.”
The process of adding the X option was kicked off last summer by a court order from the Multnomah County Circuit Court after a judge ruled that Army veteran Jamie Shupe could legally change genders from female to non-binary.
“For the first time that we know, a court ordered a name change to something other than male or female and, at the time, we couldn’t do that, so we went to study our statutes and checked to see whether we could do it by a rule change or if it (had) to go through legislation,” said David House, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). “They found they could do that through the rule change.”
As part of the rule-making process, the department’s Driver and Motor Vehicles division held public hearings, and comments were “overwhelmingly positive,” said Tom McClellan, the division’s administrator.
“Of the 83 comments, both written and oral, only 12 were opposed to the ruling. Most of the 12 opposing comments were things like ‘This is ridiculous,’ ‘insanity’ and ‘political correctness gone haywire,'” McClellan said at a hearing Thursday before the Oregon Transportation Commission.
Supportive comments included that the DMV was “being careful and considerate,” McClellan said, adding that one letter of support read “Thank you for making it easy for me. Little along my transition has been easy.”
The Oregon Transportation Commission approved the rule change unanimously, and it will go into effect on July 3.