Society

This State To Be First With No-Gender Driver Licenses

| by David Bonner

A hearing will be held in Portland, Oregon, on May 10 that will have a major impact on the state's transgender residents.

If approved, Oregon residents will be able to identify as "nonbinary," neither male nor female, on their driver's licenses and identification cards. Instead of "F" or "M," their licenses would display "X" under sex, reports The Oregonian.

The California legislature is considering a similar measure, and the Canadian province of Ontario already offers gender-neutral licenses and health cards.

In Oregon, the rule change will not require a legislative vote, and applicants will not need a court order to change their licenses. They will merely be required to pay replacement or renewal fees.

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An estimated 20,000 Oregonians identify as transgender, according to The Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation provides definitions of the relevant terminology:

Transgender is a term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. Gender identity is a person's internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or boy or girl.) For some people, their gender identity does not fit neatly into those two choices. For transgender people, the sex they were assigned at birth and their own internal gender identity do not match. People in the transgender community may describe themselves using one (or more) of a wide variety of terms, including (but not limited to) transgender, transsexual, and non-binary.

Danno Mannino, a resident of southern Oregon who identifies as genderfluid, explained why the new rule is important.

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"ID cards are something we show at banks, to new bosses, to police, to bartenders," Mannino said. "And every time I have to pull it out of my wallet, my heart sinks that my true name and gender are not acknowledged on it yet ... The smallest of interactions, as they build and build, weigh heavy on the hearts of our community. We are hurting and are asking to be considered."

Mannino's personal experience is backed up with statistics, as reported by GLAAD, citing a U.S. Trans Survey

•    29 percent of transgender people live in poverty, compared to 14 percent of the general population
•    30 percent of transgender people report being homeless at some point in their lives, with 12 percent saying it was within the past 12 months
•    Transgender people experience unemployment at 3x the rate of the general population, with rates for people of color up to 4x the national unemployment rate
•    30 percent of transgender people report being fired, denied a promotion, or experiencing mistreatment in the workplace due to their gender identity in the past 12 months
•    31 percent of transgender people experienced mistreatment in the past year in a place of public accommodation, including 14 percent who were denied equal service, 24 percent who were verbally harassed, and 2 percent who were physically attacked because they were transgender
•    40 percent of respondents reported attempting suicide in their lifetime, nearly nine times the attempted suicide rate in the United States (4.6 percent)

Sources: The Oregonian, GLAAD / Photo credit: Pixabay

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