SALEM, OREffective July 1, the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles ( DMV ) will begin offering a third gender marker on state identification cards, making Oregon the first state in the country to recognize non-binary identities.
Currently, Oregon has two gender options on state IDs: M for male and F for female. The third marker will be X for not specified.
"It's exciting to see Oregon's Department of Motor Vehicles adopt this change. We know gender is a spectrum and some people don't identify as male or female," said Basic Rights Oregon Co-Executive Director Nancy Haque. "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. Removing barriers for people is critical to helping all of us live healthy, productive lives."
While new to the United States, non-binary gender markers are not newother cultures and other countries have recognized non-binary genders for many years, including Canada, India, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand and Nepal. In fact, United Nation states use an internationally recognized format that includes a non-binary gender marker of X.
Oregon's DMV began considering a third gender marker last year after an Oregon Court affirmed Jamie Shupe's non-binary gender. Shupe was the first person in the United States to successfully petition for a non-binary gender classification, however, since then several others have received non-binary markers through the courts. The Oregon Transportation Commission, which governs the state's transportation policy, approved the change today in its monthly meeting.
Following this court ruling, the Oregon DMV convened an advisory group to inform a proposal for a third gender marker that included Basic Rights Oregon and other community members. The DMV finalized a recommendation this past spring and hosted two public hearings in Eugene and Portland in May to receive feedback on an X gender marker. More than 110 people testified in support of this change, including Oblio Stroyman, executive director of Trans*Ponder.
"For me and my community, when our existence and identities are affirmed by the larger community, our mental and emotional well-beings are profoundly impacted for the better," they said during the Eugene hearing. "We feel safer, we feel more emotionally stable and are able to be more productive."
Nancy Haque testified on behalf of Basic Rights Oregon in Portland. "I am the mother of a three-year old. Like any parent, I will do anything I can to protect my child from harm in this world. Ideally, my child will grow up in a world and an Oregon that recognizes and sees them for who they are, no matter how they identity."
Basic Rights Oregon is the state's largest nonprofit lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer advocacy group. Basic Rights Oregon works to ensure that all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Oregonians experience equality by building a broad and inclusive politically powerful movement, shifting public opinion and achieving policy victories. For more information, visit basicrights.org .