This week, the N.C. Department of Transportation unveiled a new form for changing a gender designation on a driver’s license or ID.
Previously, people who wanted to change their gender marker had to provide a surgeon’s letter saying they had undergone gender reassignment surgery. The new form can be certified by more health providers, as well as therapists and social workers.
“We still have a long way to go before LGBTQ North Carolinians are seen as equal citizens in the eyes of the law, but this is one step in that direction,” Equality NC executive director Kendra R. Johnson said in a statement. “People of all genders shouldn’t have to face invasive questioning and surgical requirements just to have their government identification reflect their true identity. Trans men are men and trans women are women—period.”
The form asks applicants to circle either male or female as their sex designation and affirm they are requesting the change to reflect their gender identity, “not for any fraudulent or other unlawful purpose.” A health care or social service provider then has to affirm the applicant’s gender identity. The applicant has to bring in the form along with their old ID, pay for a new ID, and take a new picture. (U.S. passports, birth certificates, and court orders reflecting a person’s gender identity are also accepted. Name changes are a separate process.)
The new process is modeled after one recommended by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators and in use in twenty-one states.
According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, only 10 percent of respondents in North Carolina reported that all of their IDs had the name and gender they preferred. About three-quarters said none of their IDs had the name and gender they preferred.
“We applaud this step the DMV has taken to modernize the process to update gender markers on driver’s licenses,” Sarah Gillooly, director of political strategy and advocacy for the ACLU of North Carolina said in a statement. “Driver’s licenses are basic forms of identification that many people use to participate in public life, and this policy update will help transgender North Carolinians do just that.”
Policies facilitating gender-marker changes were among many LGBTQ advocates had said the state—which infamously passed (and later repealed, mostly) HB 2 requiring people to use the bathroom that matches their birth certificate—is lacking. North Carolina, however, still doesn’t provide transgender-inclusive health benefits to state employees, doesn’t prohibit housing or employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and doesn’t have a law addressing hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity.