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Pennsylvania to offer gender-neutral option on driver’s licenses

Emma Powys Maurice August 1, 2019

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will allow motorists to select 'X' as a gender-neutral option (George Frey/Getty)

Pennsylvania has become the latest US state to offer gender-neutral driving licenses, allowing motorists to use “X” to indicate gender.

The state joins 14 others that already have, or will soon have, a gender-neutral option for trans and non-binary people.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation (PennDOT)’s existing rules allow transgender people to change the gender on their licenses, but the move to offer a gender-neutral option gives greater flexibility.

“We appreciate the support for our communities and hope to continue moving forward with policies that protect our transgender and non-binary communities,” said Amanda Arbour, executive director of the LGBT Center of Central Pennsylvania.

“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 outs them and put them at greater risk for harassment, for violence, for mistreatment.”

Incorrect ID leaves trans and non-binary people open to abuse

According to a 2015 survey, 69 per cent of Pennsylvanian transgender people have had ID that listed them as the wrong gender, and thirty percent said they’d been verbally harassed, denied service or assaulted after they provided ID that did not correspond with the gender they identified as.

PennDOT say the changes will come in 2020 (George Frey/Getty)

PennDOT says the much-needed change is due in January next year, along with Hawaii and New Hampshire. California, Oregon, Vermont, Nevada and Minnesota are among the states that already have it in place.

According to PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt, the department is able to make the change on its own, without authorisation from the Republican-controlled legislature.

“We’ve been talking about it for some time. It also supports the governor’s initiatives for inclusivity,” she told The Daily Item of Sunbury.

But some Republican lawmakers said they were skeptical of the plan.

“It’s an unnecessary change,” said state Rep. Tedd Nesbit, R-Mercer County, adding that removing a gender marker on ID could make it more difficult for police to relay identifying information.

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