Effective July 1, the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will begin offering a third gender marker on state identification cards, making Oregon the first state in the country to recognize non-binary identities.
Currently, Oregon has two gender options on state IDs: M for male and F for female. The third marker will be X for not specified.
“It’s exciting to see Oregon’s Department of Motor Vehicles adopt this change. We know gender is a spectrum and some people don’t identify as male or female,” said Basic Rights Oregon Co-Executive Director Nancy Haque. “Our lives are so gendered, which is why it’s important that driver licenses and other forms of IDs recognize people who are non-binary. Removing barriers for people is critical to helping all of us live healthy, productive lives.”
While new to the United States, non-binary gender markers are not new—other cultures and other countries have recognized non-binary genders for many years, including Canada, India, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand and Nepal. In fact, United Nation states use an internationally recognized format that includes a non-binary gender marker of X.
Oregon’s DMV began considering a third gender marker last year after an Oregon Court affirmed Jamie Shupe’s non-binary gender. Shupe was the first person in the United States to successfully petition for a non-binary gender classification, however, since then several others have received non-binary markers through the courts.
Following this court ruling, the Oregon DMV convened an advisory group to inform a proposal for a third gender marker that included Basic Rights Oregon and other community members. The DMV finalized a recommendation this past spring and hosted two public hearings in Eugene and Portland in May to receive feedback on an X gender marker. More than 110 people testified in support of this change, including Oblio Stroyman, executive director of Trans*Ponder.
“For me and my community, when our existence and identities are affirmed by the larger community, our mental and emotional well-beings are profoundly impacted for the better,” they said during the Eugene hearing. “We feel safer, we feel more emotionally stable and are able to be more productive.”
Nancy Haque testified on behalf of Basic Rights Oregon in Portland. “I am the mother of a three-year old. Like any parent, I will do anything I can to protect my child from harm in this world. Ideally, my child will grow up in a world and an Oregon that recognizes and sees them for who they are, no matter how they identity.”
Jamie Shupe, whose court order was the impetus for this change, said:
“At this point, what I want more than anything else is to recognize and thank all of the amazing people, who not only believed in me, but also in what I wanted to accomplish on behalf of all of the various communities that are stakeholders in this historic human rights victory for sex and gender. Right now, I am very much reminded of how in the military it was always the people out in front of the fight who would always have the spotlight shone on them, but the truth behind any successful operation is that the warfighters out in front cannot triumphantly prevail without a massive support element behind them. And the unsung heroes in this case that make up that support element are the brilliant legal minds that drafted the documents and made the arguments, the people who tirelessly worked or volunteered in the advocacy organizations that rallied and fought for the cause, and the people in Government who didn’t buckle or balk at the size of the task at hand.”
“Throughout the past 19 months or so a myriad of people have told me how brave I am as I have served as an often public face within the vanguard of this fast moving, grassroots campaign with Sara Kelly Keenan, Toby Adams, and many, many others to secure legalization of non-binary identities. But the reality is I haven’t been brave at all. In fact, I’ve trembled with the fear of failure and cried tears until I had no more tears to cry, because of the magnitude of what’s been at stake, and now won. But in the end, the huge legal and non-binary civil rights battle that I expected to unfold going into this never came to pass; simply because this was always the right thing to do all along. And anytime the solution to the issue at hand is the just and correct thing, or the cause has merit, the opposition is mild, and the victory swift. Thank you everyone!”