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Gender-neutral DC drivers licenses to be available as early as next week

Gender-neutral DC drivers licenses to be available as early as next week (Image Courtesy of DDOT)

It’s a D.C. driver’s license that doesn’t exist, at least not yet.

Instead of an ‘M’, short for male or ‘F’ for female, there is an ‘X’.

“You have to right now make a choice between male and female,” says Ward 1 D.C. Council member Brianne Nadeau.

District transportation officials now say gender-neutral licenses will be available as early as next Monday.

“The ‘X’ gender marker allows for individuals to have more privacy around their gender,” says Arli Christian, a spokesperson for the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Any individual who chooses to have additional privacy can request an ‘X’.

The District is only the second jurisdiction in the country to take this step.

An approved plan for gender-neutral licenses in Oregon takes effect July 3.

California’s State Senate has approved a bill adding a non-binary option on licenses; House members there are now examining the measure.

Meanwhile, Nadeau is sponsoring a bill supporting gender-neutral licenses in the District.

“Folks who are transitioning or who do not identify with a specific gender are forced to choose one when they get their driver's license,” she says.

It turns out the DMV plan does have some vulnerabilities.

A new administration in the Wilson Building could overturn it.

But Nadeau’s bill would make gender-neutral licenses part of the permanent city code.

“In particular I'm thinking of one constituent who doesn't identify as either male or female, and ask could there be another way,” she says. “We can make it an option somewhere in between that really better reflects what that person's identity really is.”

Outside a DMV branch in Southwest, drivers were divided about the ‘X’ designation.

“Personally, I don’t think everybody was born ‘X’, says Anthony Cochran. “I think it should say male or female.”

“To each his own. You let them live their lives,” Charlita Hall says.

The Center for Transgender Equality says in a nationwide survey of nearly 28,000 transgender people, 35 perecent of respondents identified themselves as non-binary.

“When your ID doesn't have the right gender marker, and doesn't reflect who you are, it causes all sorts of problems,” Christian says. “Either harassment or discrimination… some were asked to leave restaurants or establishments, and some were even physically harmed.”

Nadeau’s bill has just been referred to a committee.

She expects the measure will have public hearings in the fall.

If Congress signs off on the bill, it could become law by next year.

“I don't see what difference it make. Male or female,” says Diane Durban, who lives in the District. “If a male has a male name, but then, dresses as a female, as least somebody knows they are transgender, so that could be a good thing.”

Nadeau says her bill may not be the only way to make gender-neutral licenses a reality in the nation’s capital.

But she’s confident it will happen.

“We can do this in the District of Columbia. We can make it an option somewhere in between that really better reflects what that person's identity really is. We have a shot at this, and then it will make a difference.”

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