Confirmed: Vermont Will Offer an X on Driver’s Licenses by July 1st, 2019

Back in early 2018, it was reported that the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles had looked into offering a third gender option on driver’s licenses and had determined that there were no legal obstacles–so, Vermont being Vermont, they said they’d go ahead with it.

Then more than a year passed, and nobody heard anything. I contacted the DMV twice about this and got a response only to one of the messages (the response was “I don’t know what you’re talking about”).

So a few weeks ago, I touched base with the Vermont news organization Vermont Digger and suggested they look into the story. They felt it was newsworthy, so reporter Ellie French interviewed DMV head Wanda Minoli, and yes, a gender neutral marker is coming! The DMV is rolling out a new, higher-security license by July 1st of this year, and it will include an “X” option corresponding to “other” for gender.

The Vermont Digger article (and other articles I’ve read) did not specify what a person would need to do to get the X on their license. According to transequality.org , in order to switch between M and F on their driver’s licenses, binary transgender people must get “a written letter from a physician stating that gender change is complete and the date of completion.” That’s terrible. I hope we can get this law changed in the near future to be less oppressive and surgery-centric!

However, as far as the nonbinary or X marker is concerned, when I followed up with the Digger, I found out that Minoli has stated that it would be simply filled in by the applicant, like height and weight. Rock on, Vermont!

Neither Male nor Female, Just Like It Says on My Driver’s License

In June of 2016, an Oregon judge ruled that Jamie Shupe, a 52-year-old Army veteran, could legally change their gender to “nonbinary” in the eyes of that state. This seems to have been the first time in the U.S. that a person gained legal status as neither male nor female, which is a little astonishing, considering we’ve always been here–though I admit, for a long time nobody considered our gender identities might be legitimate (least of all, oftentimes, nonbinary people ourselves).

Since then, the motor vehicle departments of Oregon, the District of Columbia, and California have all added a nonbinary option, X, on driver’s licenses, and Ontario, Washington state, and Vermont are now considering doing the same.

oregon driver's license with x gender

One thing that surprises me in all this is that for the most part, this welcome change isn’t based on new laws. California passed a bill to recognize a third gender option, but everywhere else I mentioned, it’s the department of motor vehicles getting things done. Apparently, there being no law that driver’s licenses have to say “male” or “female,” adding a third option isn’t a legal issue: it’s just administrative.

Even as a person who’s only partly out, I would love to see this option available in my state. The idea of having a license that doesn’t require me to say I’m something I’m not (or at least something I’m not a large proportion of the time) is hugely appealing, and I imagine preparing for my new photo by making my face look as androgynous as possible, hopefully leaving anyone who ends up needing to check my ID with no need to be confused or figure anything out.

androgynous face

But then, the bigger issue for me is the name. Even if I can get ID that is more or less accurate in terms of gender and that never presents a jarring contrast between my presentation in life and my presentation in my photo, I still need to be able to refer to myself somehow. Yet it’s already possible to get a legal name change, so all the tools are there.

What about you? Does anyone else out there have or want a non-binary designation on your license or passport?