New York is the next state in line to make it possible to select “X” as a gender marker on driver’s licenses and state IDs, allowing for a more gender-neutral option.
The new option is the result of a federal lawsuit filed by a nonbinary, transgender state resident who filed for the opportunity to select a correct gender marker on their birth certificate. The lawsuit was filed by LGBTQ+ legal advocacy group Lambda Legal on behalf of Sander Saba, the individuals who hoped to challenges the states limited gender marker options of only “male” and “female.”
“Possessing accurate identification documents is essential to everyone’s health, economic, and social well-being, but particularly for marginalized communities such as nonbinary and LGBTQ people,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Lambda Legal senior attorney, in a statement. “A driver’s license is an especially ubiquitous identification document used to verify an individual’s identity in almost every setting – including access to health care, hospitals, employment, education, housing, banking services, travel, and other government services.”
“Denying nonbinary people documentation congruent with their gender identity undermines their ability to fully participate in all aspects of life,” he continued.
Saba is originally from New York City and already had a gender-neutral birth certificate, as well as a gender-neutral driver’s license from Pennsylvania. However, when they went to update their documentation in order to comply with a state law requiring New York residents to exchange their out-of-state ID for a New York one. And because there is no nonbinary option, Saab’s lawyers argue that they’re unable to get an accurate license.
The state originally dismissed the lawsuit, as they had been planning to permit New York residents to receive an “X” on driver’s licenses since late 2019. Unfortunately, it could take at least a year to get New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles updates its system to begin offering the option — a process officials expect to take until 2021. Until then, the state in voted Saba to apply to change the marker on their license manually.
“Every day that a person is denied accurate identity documents is a day in which their rights are unconstitutionally deprived, and in which they suffer harm,” Staff Attorney Carl Charles told the Associated Press. “We will continue to prosecute our case on behalf of Mx. Saba so that all nonbinary New Yorkers can have accurate state identification that they need without undue delay.”