Under Minnesota’s new Real ID-compliant driver’s-license system, residents can now choose to identify as “non-binary” next to the sex category on new licenses.
The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 in response to 9/11 to establish minimum security requirements for state-issued driver’s licenses, but Minnesota was one of the last states to make the transition to the new system. On Monday, the new IDs were finally available to Minnesotans, some of whom are taking advantage of the new “non-binary” gender option.
“I guess you could say I’m a shade of gray in a world of black and white,” Minnesota J. Zappa told Fox 9 after applying for a new license. “It was just frustrating because most recently I had an F on it and I would show it to someone, but they would say ‘you are dressed like a man,’ or ‘you have a deep voice,’ or ‘we don’t think this is accurate.’ They would say ‘this isn’t your license.’”
The new licenses will allow Minnesotans to select either M, F, or X for their gender, with the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services Division saying the “third option” will “better serve all Minnesotans.”
“The new application has three options: male, female, and non-binary. Gender identification is a self-descriptor like eye color, height, and weight,” the Driver and Vehicle Services Division said in a statement. “In addition, other states recognize this designation and the federal government allows it under REAL ID.”
Previously, Minnesota required either a court order showing a gender change or medical certification of a gender transition to qualify for the “non-binary” option, though that won’t be the case going forward, according to a Driver and Vehicle Services Division spokeswoman. Under the new changes, applicants will not have to provide medical certification to qualify, nor did the new rules require legislative approval, The Star Tribune reports.
Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson), however, disagrees, saying the change “was made unilaterally by Democrats in the Dayton administration, without legislative approval.”
“I have questions about its legality,” Newman said in a statement. “Will this change hamper law enforcement’s ability to properly identify suspects, or hinder the investigative process in any way? The public deserves answers to these questions, or at least a dialogue about the potential repercussions.”
The National Center for Transgender Equity’s State Policy Director Arli Christian said in a recent interview that a gender-neutral option for “non-binary people” allows them to “have a more accurate marker on their ID.”
“The gender neutral option also allows anyone to have additional privacy around their gender, and is an exciting step towards recognizing we do not need states to police or track gender,” Christian said.
Minnesota joins Maine, Oregon, California, Washington, and the District of Columbia in offering a gender-neutral category on IDs.
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