“X” Markers Coming to Maryland Licenses, But Real ID Switchover Could Cause Headaches

Marylanders will also be able to change their gender marker without a court order or letter from their medical provider.
Nonbinary flag with three gender boxes (F, M, and X) superimposed, with the X box checked

As of October 1, 2019, Marylanders will be able to choose the gender on their driver’s licenses and state-issued ID cards without providing a court order or other documentation, and, in a first for the state, they’ll have a third gender option designated with an X. But, the state’s switchover to Real ID-compliant licenses could create headaches for Marylanders wanting to change their gender marker.

The new law, passed by the Maryland General Assembly in March, requires the state’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) to issue licenses or state IDs with a third gender marker other than Female or Male. The MVA’s use of an “X” marker for the third gender option follows the practice in other states and a number of foreign countries.

The law also allows Marylanders to change the gender marker on their license or state ID without providing proof of gender, greatly streamlining what had been a cumbersome – and often expensive – process. Previously, changing the gender on one’s license or state ID required getting a court order or having paperwork signed by multiple medical providers, neither of which will be required beginning October 1, 2019.

To change the gender on your license or state ID, simply visit any full service MVA branch. When you get there, tell the check-in agent that you need to get a corrected license. When your number is called up to speak to an agent, explain that you want to update the gender marker on your ID and they’ll walk you through the process, which doesn’t require you to fill out any forms.

Instead, when it comes time to select your new gender marker, your three options will pop up on a touchscreen. Simply pick the gender marker of your choice. It’s as easy as that, though you will also need to pay a $20 fee for your new license, which will be mailed to your home address within the next couple of weeks.

Because of the state’s implementation of the federal Real ID law requirements, however, Marylanders wishing to change the gender marker on their licenses or state IDs may be required to present documentation in order to obtain a Real ID-compliant license. This typically means documents to prove your age, identity, and where you live, as well as your social security card. Individuals who have previously changed their name may also be required to bring copies of their court orders, marriage certificates, or other documents.

If you don’t already have a Real ID-compliant driver’s license, you will only be able to change your gender marker if you switch to a Real ID license/ID at the same time. To find out if your Maryland driver’s license or state ID is already Real ID-compliant, or to find out what documents you’ll need to bring with you, use the MVA’s Real ID Lookup Tool.

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