Oregon becomes first state to add non-gender option on licenses

OR residents will soon have three options when selecting their gender on driver's licenses and state identification cards: "M" for male, "F" for female and "X" for a non-specified gender. The third option - a non-binary gender - will be reflected with an X starting July 3, 2017.

The Oregon Transportation Commission, which governs the state's transportation policy, approved the change Thursday, according to LGBT group Basic Rights Oregon, which supported the move.

The policy change was cheered by supporters as a major step in expanding legal recognition and civil rights for people who do not identify as male or female.

The process of adding the X option was kicked off last summer by a court order from the Multnomah County Circuit Court after a judge ruled that Army veteran Jamie Shupe could legally change genders from female to non-binary. In fact, United Nation states use an internationally recognized format that includes a non-binary gender marker of X.

As for the licenses, the final decision was ultimately up to the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles. "Our lives are so gendered, which is why it's important that driver licenses and other forms of IDs recognize people who are non-binary". "I was assigned male at birth due to biology", Shupe, 52, who prefers to be called "Jamie" rather than using any pronoun, told Oregon Live at the time.

California's state Senate passed a bill last month to add a third gender options on state IDs.

"Presenting an identification document that does not accurately reflect one's sex and is inconsistent with one's gender identity can trigger invasions of privacy, prejudice, stigma, violence, and discrimination and harassment in a wide variety of settings, including in employment, education, public accommodations, health care, housing, and interactions with the government, including with law enforcement", the group wrote. "It's something that we should do because it's the right thing to do".

"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's been at stake - and now won", Shupe said.

Gender identity has become a major flashpoint across the USA in places like North Carolina, which passed a bill forcing students to use toilets according to the sex listed on their birth certificates.

  • Joey Payne