People in the LGBTQ community are excited to be able to have IDs that match their gender identity
For the first time, Minnesotans have the option to choose a gender other than male or female on their driver’s license.
At least one state lawmaker is questioning the legality and impact of the change.
Along with “M” for male and “F” for female, there will be “X” for non-binary when choosing a gender on a license application.
The new option to identify as non-binary, a term used by people who choose to not identify as male or female, came with the rollout of new driver’s license software on Monday allowing people to register for Real IDs — the state’s new-strength ID that meets federal standards for citizens to fly and enter some federal sites.
The decision to make the change was not publicized prior to the launch on Monday. State Sen. Scott Newman, a Republican from Hutchinson who chairs the transportation finance and policy committee, said in a statement that the change was made unilaterally and without legislative approval.
He also questioned the impact it will have on law enforcement if they were not informed of the change. Newman said he first heard about it Tuesday.
Minnesota’s division of Driver and Vehicle Services did not respond to requests for comment on Newman’s statement.
M.J. Zappa, known legally as Minnesota J Zappa, is laying claim as the first Minnesotan to identify as non-binary on their driver’s license.
This is not the first time the 26-year-old Zappa, of Medicine Lake, has requested a non-binary license from the state. Previously, Zappa was told the state’s computer systems could not process the request and to come back in October when the new software would be installed.
Zappa has been waiting for years to be correctly identified.
“I’ve been accused of having a fake ID. … I feel better that there won’t be the mismatch between how I present myself and the sex on my ID,” Zappa said.
“I wish it would have happened sooner,” Zappa said, but added, “I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth it went … it was the most pleasant experience I’ve ever had at the DVS.”
STATE: ‘A BUSINESS DECISION’
The change was “a business decision to offer a third option to better serve all Minnesotans,” according to a statement from Driver and Vehicle Services. Gender identification was considered the same type of descriptor as eye color, height and weight.
The federal government allows for the option under Real ID standards. Minnesota joins Washington, California, Oregon, Maine, New York and the District of Columbia as jurisdictions to allow for a non-binary option.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton applauded the decision Tuesday, according to a statement released by spokesman Matt Swenson. The statement read:
“Governor Dayton strongly supports the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s decision to allow gender non-conforming Minnesotans to be identified as such on their driver’s licenses. Every Minnesotan deserves to be treated with the same dignity and respect.”
Monica Meyer, executive director of Outfront Minnesota, an organization focused on LGBTQ equality, adds: “People in the LGBTQ community are excited to be able to have IDs that match their gender identity.”
DO YOU NEED DOCUMENTATION?
It is unclear what documentation is necessary to identify as non-binary on your license.
Megan Leonard, a spokewoman for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said “a doctor’s note is not required to select a gender.”
But the department’s division of Driver and Vehicle Services website says a court order or medical certification that supports the gender change is required.