Pennsylvanians will soon have three options when it comes to identifying themselves on their driver’s licenses and state IDs: male, female, and X.
In response to a growing number of residents asking for gender-neutral ID options and “national trends,” PennDot spokesperson Erin Waters-Trasatt said Wednesday that the agency was in the early stages of implementing a third gender marker on Pennsylvania identification, and hopes to make the option available “by this time next year.”
“It’s not as simple as flipping a switch to change something in a computer system,” Waters-Trasatt said. “We need to analyze this from every angle to make sure everything goes smoothly.”
Pennsylvania residents who do not identify as male or female can currently place another character, like the letter U, in the gender field on state identification. But the characters can vary, and an official X option will provide a uniform gender-neutral identification, Waters-Trasatt said.
Under the state vehicle code, PennDot has the authority to make the change without legislation, she said.
Any costs involved with the change have not yet been finalized, Waters-Trasatt said. The process for residents who may want to update the gender marker on their ID has also not yet been determined.
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, a gender-neutral ID allows people identifying outside the binary to “display a more accurate gender marker” and “have increased privacy around gender on their state ID.”
Thirteen states allow individuals to identify as M, F, or X on their driver’s licenses, according to the Movement Advancement Project, an LGBTQ policy tracker. New Jersey is not among them.
An X gender marker is consistent with the practice of the International Civil Aviation Association, an agency of the United Nations, which uses an internationally recognized passport format that allows for M, F, or X gender markers.
“I don’t think X is going to create equality for nonbinary people, but at least it says in the law that X is an option,” AC Dumlao, program director of the Name Change Project at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, told Vice when New York City adopted the X gender option in January. “Without it, the world’s rejection of nonbinary people would be that much more painful.”