The Maryland House of Delegates’ Environment and Transportation Committee is expected to hold a hearing on Feb. 21 on a bill that would update state ID laws.
The legislation would add a gender-neutral option to driver’s licenses and other forms of ID and allow for gender self-identification on those IDs.
The Maryland Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee held a hearing on an identical version of the bill on Feb. 6.
The committee is expected to vote on the bill on Thursday. A favorable vote could bring initiate a floor vote in the state Senate next week.
The legislation would allow individuals who do not identify and male or female to mark their gender with an “X” on their Maryland IDs. It will also allow individuals to self-report their gender without verification from a medical provider.
“Verification presents a barrier to accuracy for many individuals,” FreeState Justice, Maryland’s statewide LGBT advocacy group, wrote.
FreeState Justice believes the legislation would reduce harassment toward transgender people in Maryland. According to a 2015 study from the National Center for Transgender Equality, 32 percent of individuals who presented an ID that did not correspond to their gender expression were “verbally harassed, denied benefits or service, asked to leave, or assaulted.”
The bill would allow those with IDs that do not match their gender identity to change their licenses.
Gender is not a data point checked by the TSA, and IDs that list an “X” in place of “M” or “F” for gender meet REAL ID standards. Therefore, non-binary license holders would be able to use their new IDs to fly.
If it passes, the legislation will take effect on Oct. 1, 2019.
“We’d be joining the other states and D.C. that have already made this change,” FreeState Justice Executive Director Mark Procopio said.