June 21, 2017 at 5:32 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. to allow gender-neutral driver’s licenses
gender-neutral, gay news, Washington Blade

Mayor Muriel Bowser’s directive will allow D.C. residents to choose a gender-neutral option for state-issued ID cards. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

At the direction of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, the city’s Department of Motor Vehicles will begin allowing residents to choose a gender-neutral “X” identifier on driver’s licenses and other city identification documents on June 26.

The announcement on Tuesday by the mayor’s office of the soon to be available gender-neutral identification documents came on the same day that six members of the D.C. City Council introduced a bill that would enact the gender neutral I.D. policy proposed by the mayor administratively into city law.

The Nonbinary Identification Cards Amendment Act of 2017, written by Council member Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1, would require the Department of Motor Vehicles to “permit applicants for a license, permit, or identification card issued pursuant to this act to designate their gender as ‘non-binary’ in lieu of ‘male’ or ‘female.’”

“The District has always sought to be a safe and welcoming place for our LGBT community, and today we are continuing to deliver on that legacy,” Nadeau said in a statement accompanying the proposed bill.

“Gender is a spectrum and some of our residents do not identify as male or female,” she said. “Current licenses force residents to conform to gender that don’t accurately reflect their identity,” she added. “This bill changes District identification documents so they can accurately reflect the needs of our residents.”

The bill was co-introduced by Council members David Grosso, Robert C. White Jr., Charles Allen, Elissa Silverman and Mary Cheh. It was co-sponsored by Council members Jack Evans, Anita Bonds, Trayon White and Vincent Gray.

A statement released by the Department of Motor Vehicles says the mayor’s proposal will give applicants for city driver’s licenses, learner’s permits, or identification cards the option of marking on an application form an “M” for male, “F” for female, and “X” for gender non-binary individuals.

Amy Nelson, director of legal services at Whitman-Walker Health, said the mayor’s proposal, which is expected to take effect June 26, will make D.C. the first jurisdiction in the nation to have a motor vehicles department that will add an “X” gender identity marking for a government-issued driver’s license or identity card.

“Whitman-Walker Health congratulates D.C.’s DMV for being the leader in recognizing non-binary gender identities and making a third gender marker available to D.C. residents,” Nelson said.

Although Oregon became the first state in the nation to allow a third gender option on identity documents following a court decision in support of a non-binary resident in the state, the Oregon action won’t take effect until July 3, according to Nelson.

“We welcome this move by the mayor and our bill is complementary to her efforts,” said Tom Fazzini, a spokesperson for Nadeau. “Councilmember Nadeau’s bill would make this change permanent in the D.C. Code,” he said. “Since the mayor’s change is administrative, it could be undone by a future administration, however unlikely that may be.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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