Pennsylvania is joining 14 other states to add gender-neutral markers on driver’s licenses, including California, Oregon, Vermont, Nevada, and Minnesota. While most licenses have an “M” or “F” marker on the identification to indicate male or female, new licenses offer the option to choose a gender-neutral marker, making the identifications more accurate for non-binary drivers.
Currently, trans drivers in Pennsylvania can change the gender marker on their licenses if they get the change form signed by a doctor, but offering a gender-neutral marker will give increased representation to Pennsylvanians.
“We appreciate the support for our communities and hope to continue moving forward with policies that protect our transgender and non-binary communities,” Amanda Arbour, executive director of the LGBT Center of Central Pennsylvania, said. “If a transgender person has a gender marker on their ID that doesn’t align with how they present to the world, then that can automatically out them and put them at greater risk for harassment, for violence, for mistreatment.”
In Pennsylvania, the Department of Transportation believes it can make the change without further political action because state laws don’t require gender markers on ID cards at all. Republican Governor Chris Sununu allowed the bill to become law without his signature.
Unsurprisingly, some Republican politicians opposed the new option, saying that it would potentially make things more difficult for police. “It’s an unnecessary change,” Republican state Representative Tedd Nesbit told The Daily Item. He also said that removing a gender marker on ID could make it more difficult for police to determine identifying information. State Representative Lynda Schlegel-Culver also said that she was concerned that the new identification cards might not comply with federal law, and that there should be a public backlash once more people become aware of the trans- and non-binary-inclusive option.
The new gender-neutral option should be available within the year.