Californians who do not identify as male or female now have a third option when it comes to a driver’s license.
“I think the State of California wants to do right,” Tranz Central Coast Chair Jamie Woolf said about the decision to add a non-binary option to the license application.
Woolf knows firsthand the internal struggle that comes with checking the gender box at the DMV.
“Essentially, it’s lying,” said Woolf, a San Luis Obispo resident. “Sometimes you’re asked to mark “M” or “F” and to have to choose something that’s not the way you feel is a lie and very uncomfortable.”
That’s why Woolf is praising the state legislature’s decision to join the ranks of Oregon, Maine and Washington state by adding a third box to the application.
“The gender category will appear as “M” for male, “F” for female, then the letter “X” for non-binary,” said California DMV Public Information Officer Artemio Armenta.
The transition is a result of Senate Bill 179, which states: “The binary gender designations of female and male fail to adequately represent the diversity of human experience.”
The new law also allows people to switch from male to female or female to male with ease.
“Previously, a medical certification was required to change your gender on drivers license or ID card,” Armenta said. “This is no longer the requirement.”
The new guidelines do not require medical proof for the change, simply an affidavit, promising the adjustment is authentic, not fraud.
“It’s the state saying we want to make this easy for you if this is the way you feel. We want to make sure you can make the change with the fewest possible problems,” Woolf said.
The state DMV estimates 50-54,000 Californians will change the gender designation this year, with about 20,000 people doing so each year after.
Critics argue there’s potential for fraud but Woolf said the new option will make the IDs more authentic than ever.
“The truth is that the only people wanting to do this is those who know in their hearts that their identity is neither male or female,” Woolf said.
To change a person’s name on the ID, a verification process must still be completed.