Maine has legally recognised non-binary people on official documents for the first time, making it only the third state to do so.

In an announcement on Monday, the state’s bureau of motor vehicles stated that it will now allow people to identify as non-binary on driving licences.

Before this change, Maine residents were forced to identify themselves as either male or female on their official ID, which could be highly distressing to non-binary people.

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 25: Demonstrators protest for transgender rights on February 25, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstrators were angry with President Donald Trumps recent decision to reverse the Obama-era policy requiring public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Many activists see legal gender recognition as a human right (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

For licences that currently have either ‘F’ or ‘M’ gender markers, the bureau has now begun to issue stickers reading “gender has been changed to X – Non-binary.”

Maine’s bureau of motor vehicles intends to phase out the stickers by next year, printing new licences that feature an ‘X’ for those who request them.

These newly printed licences will be available by July 2019 as part of a wider overhaul of the state’s driving licences.

Those wishing to change their licences must submit a one-page gender designation form, and will be sent the sticker for free.

Georgian activists protest for the right to change their gender on legal documents (VANO SHLAMOV/AFP/Getty Images)

According to the Portland Press Herald, the new option was introduced after a non-binary resident filed a complaint with the state’s Human Rights Commission.

Ian-Meredythe Dehne Lindsey, who filed the complaint in June 2017, welcomed the announcement on Monday.

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They said: “Words cannot adequately express the relief I feel, and how happy I am, that my ID will now reflect such an integral identity and who I am.”

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Matthew Dunlap, the Secretary of State for Maine said on Monday that the state had been moving forward on trans and non-binary inclusion in recent years, including changing the wording on driving licences from “sex” to “gender.”

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap (Creative Commons)

Dunlap said: “We understand that it’s very, very important for people in these situations to see it in writing.

“We don’t want the designation to be wrong. I’m all about people being able to say who they are. The ‘X’ designation covers a lot of things.”

Maine is now the fourth place in the United States to offer legal recognition for non-binary people, following California and Oregon as well as Washington DC.

Many non-binary people also identify as transgender (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

The recognition of non-binary people internationally has also grown in recent years.

In May, a court judgment meant that from now on, the government of Saskatchewan in Canada will allow birth certificates without a gender marker.

Canada also made its anthem gender-neutral earlier in Feburary.

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