September 20, 2018 at 10:22 am EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. Council approves ‘Nonbinary’ I.D. card bill
nonbinary i.d., gay news, Washington Blade

Council member Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) is the author of the non-binary identification measure. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. City Council on Tuesday gave final approval by unanimous voice vote to legislation that allows residents to choose a gender-neutral identifier on driver’s licenses and other city identification documents.

The legislation, the Nonbinary Identification Cards Amendment Act of 2017, requires the D.C. 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 Council’s action came one year and three months after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a mayoral order directing the motor vehicles department to do essentially the same thing. The mayor’s order, which has been in effect since June 26, 2017, allows residents to choose a gender-neutral “X” identifier on driver’s licenses or other city identification documents.

Council member Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), author of the non-binary identification measure approved by the Council this week, praised Bowser for putting the gender-neutral policy into effect by a mayoral directive. But Nadeau said the legislation was needed to ensure that the policy would not be repealed by a future mayor without having to obtain approval by the Council.

“Gender is a spectrum and some of our residents do not identify as male or female,” Nadeau said in a statement at the time she and five of her Council colleagues co-introduced the bill last year shortly before Bowser issued her directive.

“Current licenses force residents to conform to gender that don’t accurately reflect their identity,” she said. “This bill changes District identification documents so they can accurately reflect the needs of our residents.”

At the time Bowser’s directive took effect on June 26, 2017, D.C. became the first jurisdiction in the nation to have its motor vehicles department allow residents to choose a gender-neutral identifier on a government-issued driver’s license or identity card. Less than one month later, on July 3, 2017, Oregon became the first state to allow a gender-neutral option on its identity documents.

Bowser has said she would sign the non-binary license and identification measure passed by the Council. Upon her signature, the legislation must undergo a 30 legislative day review by Congress before it becomes law similar to all D.C. approved legislation.

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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