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New York to allow X gender marker on driving licenses in major win for non-binary rights

Vic Parsons November 18, 2020
New York to allow 'X' driving licenses after non-binary resident's lawsuit

Sander Saba, a trans non-binary New York resident who brought the lawsuit forcing the city to introduce X gender markers on driving licenses. (Supplied by Lambda Legal)

New York will introduce X gender markers on driving licenses, it has emerged from a lawsuit brought by a trans non-binary resident.

Sander Saba, a 25-year-old New York University Law School graduate, argued that the New York state policy of only offering “male” and “female” gender markers on driving licenses is discriminatory.

More than a dozen states in the US already offer X gender markers on driving licenses.

When they brought the lawsuit in July, Saba said: “My request is simple – to have a driver’s license that matches my identity.

“It’s demeaning to be forced to carry identity documentation that is inconsistent with my identity. The state of New York should respect who I am, recognise me as non-binary, and issue me an accurate driver’s license.”

In papers filed as part of Saba’s federal lawsuit, officials disclosed that X gender markers on driving licenses would be brought in, adding that the overhaul would take up to a year as Department of Motor Vehicles computers cannot currently automatically process an X gender marker.

New York state lawyers also asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed, claiming it is null because they began planning late last year to “permit New Yorkers to receive a driver’s license that bears an ‘X’ gender identification marker through an automated application process”.

Saba’s lawsuit was filed by Lambda Legal, an organisation working to secure civil rights for LGBT+ people.

Carl Charles of Lambda Legal said of the development: “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.

“We will continue to prosecute our case on behalf of Mx Saba so that all non-binary New Yorkers can have accurate state identification that they need without undue delay.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Motor Vehicles said that New York was taking steps to advance the civil rights of trans and gender non-conforming residents.

“The DMV understands the importance of this issue for so many New Yorkers but cannot comment further as this relates to pending litigation,” said Lisa Koumjian.

New York introduced X gender markers on birth certificates in 2019, with Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, saying the measure was introduced to make the city more welcoming for trans and non-binary people.

More than 7,000 US residents now have an X as their gender marker on their identification.

More: Bill de Blasio, lambda legal, New York, Sander Saba, x gender markers

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