Maine Allows Third Gender 'X' for Non-Binary Persons on Driver's Licenses, IDs Documents

An employee of the advocacy group Basic Rights Oregon hands out stickers during an Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle department public hearing on the rights of transgender people as the state considers adding a third gender choice to driver's licenses and identification cards, in Portland, Oregon, May 10, 2017. |

Maine is joining the list of states now allowing a third gender option for persons identifying as non-binary on their driver's licenses and identification documents.

In June of last year a resident of South Portland, Ian-Meredythe Dehne Lindsey, filed a complaint with the state Human Rights Commission, desiring a driver's license with a non-binary gender marker but was unable to obtain one due to computer limitation, the Portland Press Herald reported. An agreement with the state's Bureau of Motor Vehicles was reached this week.

As can now be done in a few other states, individuals who say that their gender identity does not fit into the traditional male/female category and prefer to go by "gender non-binary," will be designated as "X." Starting Monday, Maine residents can apply for a sticker that reads "Gender has been changed to X – non-binary."

"Having the sticker validates my existence," Dehne Lindsey, who asks to be addressed using the plural pronouns "they" and "them," said Monday.

"It was extremely important for me and for non-binary individuals in general. It shows that we're human beings and worthy of being recognized."

Dehne Lindsey further recounted that "I would pick 'female' and just die a little bit inside."

"I would spend 15 to 20 minutes agonizing over it."

Those stickers are a stop-gap measure; next summer the state government's systems will be upgraded such that "M," "F," or "X" will be printed directly on driver's licenses and state-issued ID cards.

The action is among the latest moves around the country enshrining "gender identity" into the law.

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap noted Monday that his office has been moving toward broader recognition of gender diversity ever since "sex" was replaced with "gender" several years ago as the designation on licenses and IDs. Maine has not yet allowed for such changes to be made on birth certificates, as is possible in Oregon, but that is on the radar of state LGBT activists, the Press Herald reported.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the northeast, New Hampshire just amended its nondiscrimination statute to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodation. The law will take effect in July.

In October, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Gender Recognition Act into law in his state, which allowed for a third gender choice on driver's licenses and birth certificates and relaxed the rules for individuals who identify as transgender to alter their gender on identification documents.

"Gender identity" is defined under the law as "a person's gender-related identity, appearance, or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance, or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth."

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