Washington is taking steps to add a nonbinary gender option to driver’s licenses.
Instead of choosing between a male or female gender designation on their license, Washington residents would be able to opt for an “X” — signifying “a gender that is not exclusively male or female” — under a new policy proposed by the state Department of Licensing, according to Gov. Jay Inslee’s office. Instruction permits and ID cards also would offer the nonbinary option.
“Identity is a fundamental human right,” Department of Licensing Director Teresa Berntsen said in a statement. “By us acknowledging there are more than two forms of gender, we are acknowledging basic human rights.”
The Department of Licensing held public-listening sessions on the idea before drafting rule language with the input, the governor’s office explained in a blog post. That process is set to conclude in August with a series of public hearings in Seattle, Olympia and Spokane, which may figure in the final proposed language.
The X option could be implemented as soon as this October, the governor’s office says. The option to change licenses and IDs between male and female is already in place.
Elayne Wylie, co-executive director of Gender Justice League, said that the ID policy is an important step for nonbinary individuals but not the end of activism around the discrimination they and others face.
“We’re addressing the violence that people experience for being their most authentic selves,” Wylie said. “We’re addressing … the discrimination that still exists in 2019 just for … being trans and trying to be an employee, or to get a job, or to find housing, or to access healthcare.”
The change would make licenses and IDs more consistent with state birth certificates. In January 2018, the state Department of Health began offering people born in the state the ability to change their birth-record designation from male or female to the nonbinary X. The option to change from male to female or female to male was already available.
The Health Department defines X as “a gender that is not exclusively male or female, including, but not limited to, intersex, agender, amalgagender, androgynous, bigender, demigender, female-to-male, genderfluid, genderqueer, male-to-female, neutrois, nonbinary, pangender, third sex, transgender, transsexual, Two Spirit, and unspecified.”
Without a nonbinary option for licenses, people who visit the licensing department with nonbinary birth certificates would be turned away, the governor’s office says. Sixteen other states — including Oregon and California — now allow residents to choose an X gender option on identification documents, the office adds.
Mark Miloscia, executive director of the Lynnwood-based Family Policy Institute of Washington, said his organization opposes the policy and intends to “unite Christians and other leaders” against what they view as an unscientific attempt to insert ideology into government documents.
The upcoming meetings on the X option will be:
Aug. 12, 5 p.m., Seattle Public Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Seattle.
Aug. 13, 5 p.m., State Capital, Columbia Room, 416 Sid Snyder Ave. S.W., Olympia
Aug. 15, 4 p.m., Spokane Public Library, South Hill, 3324 South Perry St. Spokane.