By: Jasper Griswold, Columnist
Picture this. You’re 16 and you just got your license. With it comes the freedom to go where you want, but there’s a problem. You’re nonbinary, and your license says “Sex: M.”
In many states, this is an issue that trans people have to face. But starting Oct. 1, this became a nonissue in Maryland. Now, people can declare their gender on their license – no documentation required – as M, F, or X.
According to the MVA website, “Effective October 1, 2019, legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly allows a person to select M (male), F (female), or X (unspecified or other). The new law allows a person to change their gender without the need of presenting documents to verify the gender selected.”
Now nonbinary people can be represented, and binary trans people can assert their gender even before it is legally changed. There is no limit to the amount of times a person can change their gender marker, but there is one caveat – for a person under the age of 18, a parent’s signature is required to approve the change.
This is terrific news. It makes me horribly dysphoric to know there’s a plastic card saying “Sex: F” burning a hole in my pocket. In fact, I hid it in a part of my wallet where I can’t see it at all. I keep my student ID with my preferred name on it in the clear part of my wallet. It does really hurt knowing I have to carry around documentation assuring I’m a girl with me everywhere I go, I feel it invalidates me. Having proper documentation could make trans people a lot more comfortable, as it won’t make them carry dysphoria-inducing identification.
For another thing, even though I’m beginning to “pass” more (I hate the concept of “passing,” but it is relevant in this case), handing a license with a big “F” on it instantly lets the bartender or whomever know I’m trans. Or it lets them tip the scale in their head of “is this person a boy or a girl” sharply in the “girl” direction. Having them know I’m trans could mean trouble for me, most likely in the form of name-calling or heckling. But even without that, it’s painful to get a “thank you sir – er, sorry. Ma’am.” I’m unlucky enough to have a name just about exclusively given to girls, but someone with a more androgynous name could have this problem alleviated with their correct gender marker on their license.
While there are few goods things without issue – there is quite the catch. If your gender is marked X on your license and M on your birth certificate and in your insurance’s system, your insurance could refuse to pay your bills on that note. Many people are protected with a “code 45”, which overrides a “sex mismatch.” However, the code may not be implemented in all hospital or insurance carriers’ systems. In those cases, using a code 45 may result in the claim being returned for correction, or simply outright denial. This is just one other way life is made difficult for trans people.