Oregon passed the legislation for a third gender option on driver's licenses on June 8th following the jury’s decision on army veteran, Jamie Shupe’s court case. The alteration to the gender options allows for non-binary, intersex, and agender people to be legally recognized. Shupe’s case fought for the right to be legally recognized as non-binary, and Oregon finally obliged. Others are following suit, and as more people alter their gender information legally, Oregon is to issue driver’s licenses which reflect these changes.
How did the legislation pass in Oregon?
When Shupe’s case brought these gender issues to the court’s attention, discussion began among the Transportation Department, statewide agencies, law enforcement, and motor vehicle departments across the country. Finally, a public hearing was called. 71 people voted in favor of the change, while just 12 opposed it.
“We must proactively break down the barriers of institutional bias," said Gov. Kate Brown. She went on to say that the vote is an important step to creating "a society that upholds the rights, liberties and dignity of each of its people." The rule will go into effect on July 3rd, and Shupe plans to be one of the first to apply for their new driver’s license with the correct gender identity.
Among others ready to apply is intersex spokesperson Sara Kelley Keenan and David Strachan. Both have worked for years in order for the government to recognize their intersex identity. They were born with mixed gender traits (biologically and genetically) and demanded this be reflected on their documents, rather than being assigned a male or female gender at birth. Keenan holds the country’s only intersex birth certificate, which she fought hard to have altered. Her gender identity is not reflected on her driver’s license or passport at this time.
What is the new gender category in Oregon?
Oregon is recognizing non-cissexual individuals with a category “X” on their driver’s license. It allows for individuals to opt out of assigning themselves a male or female identifier when these categories are not accurate. Serving as an other or an opt it, it validates those who feel traditional western gender roles do not apply to them. Internationally, the X is recognized by Australia, New Zealand, India, and Ontario, Canada. It is a standard recommended by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. The International Civil Aviation Organization, which monitors the passport standards across the globe, also recognized the validity of offering an X option on legal documents.
More states may follow Oregon’s lead: In January, California lawmakers began discussion of a third gender option for licenses.
What does the government say on a national level about third gender options?
A third gender option follows the REAL ID Act, which simply states that a license must capture the gender of the individual. However, the addition of third gender options on passports will most likely be a hard legislation to pass. There are no foreseen problems with travel within the country due to licenses with X for gender.