Northam signs Va. non-binary driver’s license bill into law

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has signed a law requiring the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to offer a non-binary option on driver’s licenses.

The governor signed Senate Bill 246 on March 31, which now offers driver’s license applicants the option to mark “male,” “female” or “non-binary” when designating their sex.

The measure introduced by state Sen. Scott
Surovell (D-Fairfax County), passed in the Virginia House of Delegates on Feb.
25 and in the Virginia Senate on March 2.

“Historically, transgender and non-binary
Virginians have experienced challenges obtaining accurate identity documents
due to unnecessary barriers,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee
Lamneck. “This law helps to change that, and we are proud that Virginia has now
joined the ranks of 16 other states and D.C. who already offer a third gender
marker option on state driver’s licenses and IDs.”

Maryland and D.C. have each offered “X” gender
neutral identifiers since 2017 and 2019, respectively.

“This will have a significant and positive
impact on the LGBTQ community in Virginia,” Lamneck explained. “And allow
individuals to go about their daily lives with identification that accurately
reflects their identity.”

Regional activists applaud new Va. law

Equality Virginia has been tracking the bill’s progress through the General Assembly and Lamneck said they are proud of the hard work both legislators and community supporters have put in to bring Virginia’s policies in-line with the region and a growing portion of the country.

“Congratulations to the people of Virginia,” said
Kaniya Walker, a transgender woman who works for Heart to Hand, Inc., a
Maryland-based organization supporting those infected and affected by HIV and
other STDs. “I’m actually a Virginian and it’s good that they are progressing.
It’s been a long time coming.”

“We at Trans Healthcare MD are so proud of the non-binary activists and their allies who worked so hard in Virginia for so many years to make this happen,” said Lee Blinder, the organization’s executive director and founder, in a statement to the Washington Blade. “The whole DMV now has a non-binary ID option.”

Trans Healthcare MD held a rally last year in
support of Maryland’s “X” gender option becoming law. Blinder, who
identifies as non-binary and like Lamneck uses singular they pronouns, recognized
the hard work that went into this achievement.

“We are excited to see the next steps towards
equity for (non-binary), gendered, intersex and those who want privacy on their
identification documents. That will be possible after these wins,” Blinder
said. “Congratulations to our siblings in Virginia. Affirming documents have
made a true difference practically and emotionally for us, and our hearts are
so full to hear this good news.”

Walker also pointed out this is a necessary
but first step for trans and non-binary inclusion.

“I’m hoping that in the near future Virginia
gives non-binary and people of trans experience the same benefits as we get in
Maryland and D.C.,” she told the Blade. “Because I know so many trans persons
who find it hard to gain employment or go to school because of barriers such as
gender marker changes.”

The new Virginia law goes into effect July 1.

Published at Wed, 08 Apr 2020 01:51:45 +0000