This Thursday, Oregon became the first state in the history of America to formally accept a provision for the third gender on their identity documents. This means that the papers such as driver’s licenses would have an allowance for transgender, non-binary and intersex people in Oregon state.
The enactment of the new rule at the DMV has come at a time when the society has started to accept the existence of individuals who do not lie in the traditional categories of gender. The state Transportation Commission during the historic ruling acknowledged that the new rule would take effect come 3rd July, this year. A resident of Oregon would be allowed to make an application for the change without any need for a doctor. According to the new policy, residents of Oregon state would be authorized to make a choice from among three gender categories during the application for state ID cards or driver licenses: “M” for male, “F” for female and “X” for the unspecified or non-binary gender.
Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown said, “We must proactively break down the barriers of institutional bias.” She also said that this vote was a significant step towards developing a society in which the liberties, dignity, and rights of every person is upheld.
The DMV decided to consider the change of policy after Jamie Shupe petitioned a judge to acknowledge them as being neither female nor male sometime in June 2016. Hence, Jamie Shupe, an Army veteran became America’s first person to make a change of their gender to non-binary officially. According to Shupe, the new policy is the height of an exciting and emotional year. Shupe also said, “I’ve trembled with the fear of failure and cried tears until I had no more tears to cry, because of the magnitude of what has been at stake: and now won. But in the end, the huge legal and non-binary civil rights battle that I expected to unfold going into this never came to pass; simply because this was always the right thing to do all along.” Shupe then went ahead to reveal that come 3rd July; they will apply for the non-binary driver’s license. And alongside wife Sandy, hold a commemorative dinner afterward.
Other notable people known to have applied for a change of gender to non-binary status include well-known intersex activists David Strachan and Sara Kelley. The two activists have put a lot of work into convincing states around U.S to formally acknowledge that they were born with mixed- sex traits on a genetic and biological level.
J Gibbons, who is a resident of Portland and is also non-binary said, “This change in ID is a huge piece of validation for me, the state of Oregon sees me for who I am. I don’t even think ‘excitement’ can capture all of my emotions about this change.”
David House, the DMV’s spokesman, said that the court order due to Shupe’s case obliged the DMV to scrutinize it regulations and come up with a way to add the “X” option. “This is a pretty small change; there was very little opposition.” He said.
This policy allowing for the legal document that formally recognizes the different genders apart from the traditional male and female goes a long way in public sensitization of the public on the rights of the LGBT people. With the ID indicating one is of the third gender, can, therefore, help residents to avoid being mistreated and discriminated. There will also be lesser cases of people being denied services or being questioned due to the possession of IDs that don’t correspond to their gender representation.
During the hearing for the change of policy, Carly Mitchell was one of the people who testified in support of the then-proposed rule. Carly Mitchell is a resident of California and is transgender and non-binary. She said, “I want just to be me and not be constantly harassed.”
Mitchel, during her testimony, revealed that they have been barred from several gyms and even been harassed by the police for not putting on a shirt. They believe that being in possession of an ID stating their gender would greatly help navigate through those harassment situations. Mitchell went on to say that they have often been discriminated and pressured by society to identify themselves as either male or female. “It feels like a sense of not belonging anywhere and a sense of betrayal in my community,” Mitchell said.
According to several surveys carried out in various states, people with IDs not matching their gender are prone to be victims of harassment and even to physical violence in some instances. Nancy Harque, the co-executive director of Basic Rights Oregon, a support group that promoted the new DMV policy said, “Our lives are very gendered and not having an ID that corresponds with your gender identity makes people unsafe.”
Well, the new policy by the Oregon state is a historic one that could certainly be the first of many such regulations being passed.
It is expected that more states might follow suit as activists for the third gender drum up support and boldly advocate for their rights. But, dear reader, what do you think?
Should the national government also follow suit to provide documents for the non-binary formally?
Which state is next in line to provide the third gender with ID documents recognizing them?