Modernizing State Issued Identification

Bill Title: Vehicle Laws – Licenses, Identification Cards, and Moped Operator’s Permits – Indication of Applicant’s Sex

Bill Number(s): SB0196 and HB0421

Bill Sponsor(s): Senator William Smith, Jr. (D-20, Montgomery County) and Delegate Sara Love (D-16, Montgomery County)

Position: Support

Legislative History: Returned passed

What will this bill do?

This bill would introduce a gender neutral option for state-issued ID in Maryland. Some people do not identify into the categories of “male” or “female.”  An alternate gender marker of X (a gender other than male or female, undesignated) allows for more accuracy for people who are not represented by “M” or “F,” and gives a privacy option for anyone who does not want to disclose their gender.

The bill also allows for self-attestation of gender.  In order to display the most accurate information an applicant should self-report their gender without requiring verification from a medical or social service provider. Verification presents a barrier to accuracy for many individuals. Individuals themselves know best what gender marker is appropriate to display during official interactions.

Why is this bill needed?

A driver’s license that has an incorrect gender “outs” a transgender person in any situation where they need to show their license, such as travelling, applying for jobs or schools, entering any public establishments that require ID, or obtaining any other benefits that require proof of identity.

Driver’s licenses that do not match a transgender person’s lived gender can expose them to a variety of negative outcomes, such as unnecessary scrutiny by law enforcement, denial of housing, employment, health or public benefits, and verbal harassment or physical violence.

According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey from the National Center for Transgender Equality, 68% of transgender people live without ID that matches their gender identity and nearly one third (32%) of those who showed ID that did not match their gender presentation were verbally harassed, denied benefits or service, asked to leave, or assaulted.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this gender change policy allowed under the REAL ID Act?

Yes. The REAL ID Act requires states to list a gender on licenses, but the Department of Homeland Security explicitly states that they “leave the determination of gender up to the States […].”

What if a person’s gender marker does not match on other forms of identification?

While it is possible gender marker discrepancies may cause confusion when interacting with officials, legally speaking, it is not an issue to have records with different gender markers, and already occurs with frequency due to inconsistency of gender change policies across the country.

What about travelling through airports and TSA requirements?

Gender markers are not one of the data points that TSA agents are instructed to match at security checkpoints, thus an X marker is not an issue when passing through security.