New York state has started offering “X” markers for nonbinary people on driver’s licenses and ID cards. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the change in a press release last Friday, writing that she was “excited” to announce the “historic change” in advance of Pride Month.
“Every person, regardless of their gender identity or expression, deserves to have an identity document that reflects who they are,” Hochul said. “My administration remains committed to ensuring that New York is a place of value, love and belonging for members of the LGBTQ+ community.”
The “X” marker is being implemented in accordance with the Gender Recognition Act, which was signed last year on June 24 and will go into effect on that day this year. In addition to giving New Yorkers the option to choose “X” as their gender marker, the Act also lets individuals change their gender marker without needing to submit medical “proof.” Children will also be allowed to change gender markers with parental permission, and parents will be able to select “father,” “mother,” or “parent” on their children’s birth certificates. Lastly, the act gets rid of the requirement to post notice of a legal name change in a newspaper.
LGBTQ+ advocates celebrated the move, with Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Carl Charles referring to the change as “a significant step forward in the fight for lived equality for transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming people in New York State.” The change is also long overdue; Charles represented Sander Saba, a nonbinary New Yorker, in a lawsuit against former Governor Andrew Cuomo that was initially filed in July 2020, alleging that the barriers to acquiring an “X” marker on identity documents were discriminatory.
“Thanks to Lambda Legal’s work on behalf of Mx. Sander Saba, and the enactment of the Gender Recognition Act, the State of New York has finally turned the page on a discriminatory, outdated policy,” Charles said in a press release. “While there is more work to be done, today marks a significant step forward in the right direction.”
Saba themself also shared their “sincere hope that, as we move ahead, other transgender and non-binary New Yorkers will be able to live their lives with the respect and dignity they deserve in every facet of their lives, aided by accurate state-issued identification.”
“Every person should be able to access identity documents that reflect who they truly are without having to validate their personhood in court,” Saba said in a press release.
Colorado became the first state to issue a nonbinary license in 2016. Currently, according to the Movement Advancement Project, 52% of LGBTQ+ people live in a state that allows people to adopt a nonbinary gender marker on their official IDs.
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