Americans living in Colorado who choose not to identify as either male or female will have another option on state identification in a first for western nations.
As of November 30, the Colorado Department of Revenue — the parent agency of the Division of Motor Vehicles — will allow people to choose X as the symbol to represent their gender on driver’s licenses or ID cards.
“It is important Coloradans have a correct sex identifier on their driver licenses and identification cards that reflects their true lived experience,” said Colorado Department of Revenue Executive Director Michael S. Hartman in a Thursday news release. “Further, these rules are necessary to limit the [department’s] legal exposure and to align our policies to be consistent with actions in recent court cases.”
The department had said it has been working with Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Joint ID Task Force on the possibility of a non-binary option for over a year. While it has been criticised as political pandering officials cite preservation of public health, safety and welfare as reasons for the new rule.
This change comes after two court cases in which judges found in favour of individuals attempting to change their sex identifier on government identification.
On 19th September, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado ruled in Zzyym V. Pompeo that the U.S. Department of State could not deny a passport application from an intersex Fort Collins resident based solely on a refusal to select male or female for gender.
U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson said the U.S. State Department’s varied explanations for rejecting the application weren’t reasonable.
Also, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment settled a court case seeking to have the state’s birth certificate policy declared unconstitutional because it requires proof of surgery to allow a person to update the gender marker on their birth certificate.
“Over the past decade, Colorado has been a leader in advancing LGBTQ equality, and today is no exception,” said Daniel Ramos, executive director of LGBTQ advocacy organization, One Colorado. “Having a vital document like a driver’s license that correctly reflects your gender is such a basic, yet crucial component to living your everyday life. Yet, non-binary Coloradans would have to choose between a ‘M’ or ‘F’ designation that may not match their gender identity. This has opened up non-binary individuals to being forced to explain their gender identity when it’s nobody’s business but their own.”
To use the X identifier on government identification under the new policies, a person must present a Change of Sex Designation form with a signature from their licensed medical or behavioural health care provider.
The state does not require any specific surgery, treatment, clinical care or behavioural health care.
The so-called “emergency” rule will remain in place until a permanent rulemaking hearing at the end of December, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.