Bill allows unspecified gender marker

By: Samuel Smith, Columnist

I’m excited about a bill going before the Maryland Senate. It’s Senate Bill 196, which allows a person to mark male, female, or unspecified on their driver’s license without proof of your sex or gender. It also says “The administration may not (1) require an applicant for a license, an identification card, or a moped operator’s permit to provide proof of the applicant’s  sex; or (2) deny an application for a license, an identification card, or a moped operator’s permit because the sex selected by the applicant does not match the sex indicated on another document associated with the applicant.”

This bill would go into effect Oct. 1, 2019 if it passes through and it’s huge for the transgender community in Maryland. Not only does it mean nonbinary and gender nonconforming people have an option to put on their license (it’s not the best option, but it’s a step in the right direction), but it also means you don’t have to prove your gender identity or assigned sex at birth to get your driver’s license changed and you don’t need a letter from a doctor or medical professional “proving” your gender identity or sex. This helps to demedicalize transgender identities. By demedicalizing transgender identities, this can help to demystify trans identities and lessen the stigma attached to trans lives.

This bill also has its potential downsides, though. The most immediate, and obvious, is that if you mark unspecified, this could potentially make you a target of transphobia. Another potential downside is, if all your documents don’t match, it can complicate official proceedings.

Overall, I support the bill. It’s a step in the right direction. But, in my opinion, the sex marker should just be removed entirely from the license. It’s unnecessary, and opens the door for potential sexism and transphobia. There’s also no way to list every unique gender identity. It’s best to just get rid of it entirely, but having an unspecified gender marker is a  step in the right direction.

To get involved, there will be a senate hearing Wednesday, Feb. 6 at noon where you can testify. You can also contact your state senators (find out who yours is at mdelect.net) and tell them how you feel about this bill.

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