Metro Weekly

New Hampshire will allow a nonbinary gender option on state licenses

Bill's passage continues trend of Granite State lawmakers approving pro-LGBTQ laws

New Hampshire State Capitol – Photo: Billy Hathorn, via Wikimedia.

New Hampshire residents who identify as nonbinary will now be able to take advantage of a third gender designation when they apply for or renew their driver’s licenses.

Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has allowed a bill allowing for an “X” gender marker on state-issued IDs to become law without his signature. The bill, which passed both chambers on a voice vote, will take effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Last year, Sununu signed a bill that added gender identity as a protected class under New Hampshire’s nondiscrimination laws, and another prohibiting licensed therapists from attempting to change minors’ sexual orientation or gender identity by subjecting them to conversion therapy.

“Last year, we worked to put comprehensive discrimination protections for transgender people into law, and this year, we’re building on that incredible success,” Linds Jakows, the former campaign manager for Freedom NH, told the New Hampshire Union Leader. “The last two years demonstrate the incredible momentum and support in New Hampshire for the trans and gender-nonbinary community.”

“This victory is life-changing for the many Granite Staters who identify as nonbinary, and is another step toward decreasing stigmatization, promoting equality, and ensuring that state idenfication documents are accurate and affirming,” Devon Chaffee, the executive director of the ACLU of New Hampshire, which backed the bill to add nonbinary gender markers, said in a statement.

But the conservative organization Cornerstone Action, which argued against the bill’s passage, argued that it denies biological realities and could hamper the ability of government actors or law enforcement agencies who may need to identify someone’s gender when dealing with threats to public health or national security.

“On Governor Sununu’s watch, state-issued IDs have just become declarations of personal feelings,” Shannon McGinley, the executive director of Cornerstone Action, said in a statement. “That’s no antidote to discrimination. The governor is mistaken to think otherwise.”

But for people who identify as outside the gender binary, like Alex McEntee of Concord, N.H., the law will make it easier to have their true identity recognized when doing everyday tasks that require them to show identification, which can range from cashing a check to applying for a loan to purchasing age-restricted merchandise such as cigarettes or alcohol.

“I have long thought the ‘F’ that is currently on my license stands for ‘fraudulent,’ because it is simply not correct,” McEntee told the Union Leader.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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