The state of Oregon might soon allow residents to identify as "non-binary" instead of male or female on their state-issued driver's licenses and identification cards.
State officials plan to hold a public hearing Wednesday in Portland to discuss the option, which would designate an "X" for those not identifying as male (M) or female (F), The Oregonian reported Tuesday. Transgender advocates insist the move would not only make them safer but also validate their gender identity.
Amy Herzfeld-Copple, an executive director of LGBT activist group Basic Rights Oregon, said the group is excited about the possibility of alternative gender options on state ID cards.
"Some people don't identify as male or female," Copple said. "We're excited by the DMV proposal because it's an important step in recognizing what we already know to be true. Gender is a spectrum."
Oregon's Department of Motor Vehicles told The Oregonian they have no opposition to the proposed plan, and state law does not require the proposal to be approved by the state's legislature. Because Oregon does not have a specific law designating that a resident must choose "male" or female" on their state-issued ID, if local officials pass the measure through, residents would be able to choose the new option without having to get a court order. All they would need to do is pay the applicable renewal or replacement costs.
In 2016, a county judge in Oregon ruled that Army veteran Jamie Shupe could legally identify as "non-binary" after gender reassignment surgery even though the veteran was born a male. It was the first ruling of its kind in the U.S.
"We have a system in much of this nation that is forcing intersex, transgender and non-binary people to make a choice between male or female, when it doesn't fit them or accurately describe them," Shupe said. "In the case of people like me, it's like making a mixed-race kid identify as white, and pretend to be white and have the doctors trying to make them white.
"After serving honorably and having earned the Army achievement medal eight times, the Army commendation medal four times, and the meritorious service medal twice in my service to this nation, I think I deserve the right to properly classify my identity here on the homeland," Shupe said.
According to a study done by The Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles, there are almost 20,000 individuals living in Oregon who identify as transgender.
Oregon resident Danno Marino, who self-identifies as gender-fluid, said the transgender community is hurting and needs this change to occur.
"ID cards are something we show at banks, to new bosses, to police, to bartenders," Marino 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."