Md. lawmakers consider bills to update state ID laws

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Maryland lawmakers are considering two bills that would allow residents to choose a gender-neutral option for driver’s licenses and other state-issued IDs.

The Maryland House of Delegates’ Environment and Transportation Committee is expected to hold a hearing on Feb. 21 on a bill that would update state ID laws.

The legislation would add a gender-neutral option to driver’s
licenses and other forms of ID and allow for gender self-identification on
those IDs.

The Maryland Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee held a hearing on an identical version of the bill on Feb. 6.

The committee is expected to vote
on the bill on Thursday. A favorable vote could bring initiate a floor vote in
the state Senate next week.

State Sen. William Smith, Jr., (D-Montgomery County) introduced the Senate bill, and state Del. Sara Love (D-Montgomery County) is sponsoring it in the House.

The legislation would allow
individuals who do not identify and male or female to mark their gender with an
“X” on their Maryland IDs. It will
also allow individuals to self-report their gender without verification from a
medical provider.

“Verification presents a barrier to
accuracy for many individuals,” FreeState Justice, Maryland’s statewide LGBT
advocacy group, wrote.

FreeState Justice believes the
legislation would reduce harassment toward transgender people in Maryland.
According to a 2015 study from the National Center for Transgender Equality, 32
percent of individuals who presented an ID that did not correspond to their
gender expression were “verbally harassed, denied benefits or service, asked to
leave, or assaulted.”

The bill would allow those with IDs
that do not match their gender identity to change their licenses.

Gender is not a data point checked
by the TSA, and IDs that list an “X” in place of “M” or “F” for gender meet
REAL ID standards. Therefore, non-binary license holders would be able to use
their new IDs to fly.

If it passes, the legislation will
take effect on Oct. 1, 2019.

“We’d be joining the other states
and D.C. that have already made this change,” FreeState Justice Executive
Director Mark Procopio said.

Published at Wed, 13 Feb 2019 15:52:33 +0000