Following talks with LGBTQ community members, the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles will begin allowing residents of the District to select a non-binary option as their gender designation on their driver’s licenses and resident identification cards.
The change, which was announced in an email from the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, is slated to go into effect on June 26.
Elizabeth Ehret, Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow at Whitman-Walker Health, says she was prompted to inquire about the possibility of a third gender on District-issued ID cards after a client who attended Whitman-Walker’s February Name and Gender Change Clinic raised the issue with her. Ehret then contacted Arli Christian, state policy counsel at the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the two arranged a meeting with officials from the DMV.
According to Ehret, the DMV had already been in talks about implementing a third gender option — designated as “X” instead of male or female — prior to their meeting. But the DMV and D.C. city officials welcomed input from Ehret, Christian, and other LGBTQ advocates on how to craft the best policy.
“They were already moving towards implementation, but we worked with them to ensure the paperwork they were using to implement the “X” gender marker was as affirming as possible, and that the policy and procedure would be the best for transgender and gender nonconforming folks,” says Ehret.
In a first for any jurisdiction in the country, the DMV has also agreed to do away with requirements that people seeking to change their gender marker obtain a signed letter or confirmation from a medical provider or legal service provider attesting that the person is indeed transgender.
“We were able to get them to use a self-attestation form, so they no longer need an outside third-party signature for a gender marker change,” says Ehret. “As far as we’re aware, there’s no state or federal agency in the country where that’s the policy. So that’s a huge step to removing barriers to obtaining accurate identity documents.”
D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), along with five of her colleagues, recently introduced a bill that would require the DMV to offer residents the option of a non-binary gender marker. But Thomas Fazzini, communications director for Nadeau, says the councilmember welcomes the DMV’s policy change, calling it “exciting” and “complimentary” to the council’s efforts.
“Councilmember Nadeau’s would make this change permanent in the DC Code,” Fazzini said in a statement. “Since the Mayor’s change is administrative, it could be undone by a future administration, however unlikely that may be.”