CONCORD — Starting next year, “X” can mark the gender on New Hampshire driver’s licenses.
Gov. Chris Sununu allowed House Bill 669 to become law this week without his signature. It allows driver’s licenses or non-driver identification cards to be marked “M” for male, “F” for female or “X” for other.
New Hampshire joins 12 other states and Washington D.C. in providing the third designation for “non-binary” people who do not identify as male or female. HB 669, which passed both the House and the Senate on voice votes earlier this year, takes effect Jan. 1, 2020.
“This victory is life-changing for the many Granite Staters who identify as non-binary, and is another step toward decreasing stigmatization, promoting equality, and ensuring that state identification documents are accurate and affirming,” said Devon Chaffee, executive director of the ACLU of New Hampshire.
“Last year, we worked to put comprehensive discrimination protections for transgender people into law, and this year, we’re building on that incredible success,” said Linds Jakows, former campaign manager for Freedom NH. “The last two years demonstrate the incredible momentum and support in New Hampshire for the trans and gender non-binary community.”
Alex McEntee of Concord plans to be one of the first in New Hampshire to step up when the new law takes effect Jan. 1.
“I have long thought the ‘F’ that is currently on my license stands for ‘fraudulent,’ because it is simply not correct,” said McEntee. “I applaud every legislator who heard my testimony and that of other non-binary Granite Staters and voted to stand with us in solidarity by supporting HB 669.”
Not everyone supports the law. The conservative organization Cornerstone Action argued against passage of HB 669 earlier this year, saying society “can show tolerance and respect for those who identify as a different gender while still maintaining factual data that helps our government identify and solve health and safety threats.”
“On Governor Sununu’s watch, state-issued IDs have just become declarations of personal feelings,” said Shannon McGinley, executive director of Cornerstone Action. “That’s no antidote to discrimination. The governor is mistaken to think otherwise.”
In written testimony submitted to the Senate Transportation Committee on April 9, Christopher Jay, attorney with Cornerstone Action, argues against allowing people to easily change the way they perceive themselves to be on documents like driver’s licenses.
“The argument presented is that we should allow this if a person sincerely believes they are the opposite sex, or non-binary, because it would affirm the person and prevent discrimination or unwanted questions from law enforcement/employers/etc.,” writes Jay.
“But sex is a biological reality. We can make whatever claims we want about it, but at the end of the day, as a man I will never be able to give birth to a child. I cannot separate my identity from my body — I am one entity, regardless of what I feel or perceive. If we are willing to accept the logic above for sex, why stop there? Why not be consistent, and apply the same logic to age, weight, height, race, eye color, etc.?”
Many people reacted on social media to the new gender option.
“If one is that confused, should one be even driving?” wrote Sandy Glazer on Facebook.
“Personally I don’t care how people identify, that’s their personal business,” wrote Sarah Johnson on Facebook. “My question is with X now being an option, how do they put out a missing person report or issue a warrant? I mean really — if the poster reads 26-year-old X missing, how is anyone supposed to know who to look for?”
“So when they commit a crime are they going to say the person of interest is of gender X?” asked Annie Soltesz on Facebook. “If they go missing or need hospital records, how is that not going to be confusing? I don’t care what other people do with their lives, etc. but it seems like it’s going to cause some serious issues eventually.”
“As if there wasn’t a long enough waiting time at DMV,” lamented Lynn Wyatt on Facebook. “How long do they have to decide what they are? And what if they change their minds?”