Gender-neutral IDs have been available in Arkansas for years—and barely anyone noticed
The gender ‘X’ option has been available on official Arkansas IDs for years due to a procedural change that went largely unnoticed for years.
A relatively straight-forward process allowing people to identify their gender as ‘X’ on their driver’s licences and IDs has been in place since December 2010, Grindr’s LGBT+ news outlet INTO reported this week.
The policy was announced in an Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration email sent by then Assistant Commissioner of Operations and Administration Mike Munns.
“Our official policy is to allow a licensee to change their gender as requested, no questions asked, no documentation required,” the message, quoted by INTO, read, adding: “Please see that this policy is followed.”
This would make Arkansas—where LGBT+ activists have recently had to fend off several bills that would have restricted transgender people’s rights and where the state Supreme Court last year struck down anti-LGBT discrimination measures—a pioneer in the recognition of non-binary identities.
It means that Arkansas allowed for the gender marker change years before the first reported official recognition of non-binary identities in the US took place in the state of Oregon in June 2017.
“Since December 2010, approximately 200 Arkansans have selected ‘X’ as gender on a license or ID,” Scott Hardin, spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, told PinkNews in a written statement.
“The policy was developed and approved by our department’s leadership at the time (2010). It did not require a panel vote,” Hardin clarified.
Asked whether the policy could be rescinded as swiftly as it was implemented, the spokesperson said: “It could be rescinded but that is not a conversation or consideration at the department and is unlikely to take place.”
According to INTO, at least two transgender people have changed their gender marker to ‘X’ this month. One of them, Arkansas Transgender Equality Coalition board member Zach Miller, identifies as “gendervoid” and told the publication the gender marker change “was very affirming to me.”
Jerry Jones, executive vice president of Acxiom, speaks during a press conference by the Human Rights Campaign on the steps of the Arkansas State Capital in Little Rock. (Andrea Morales/Getty)LGBT+ activists welcomed the discovery of Arkansas’ policy. “Great news out of Arkansas!” LGBT+ organisation GLAAD tweeted.
“This is great news. Massive kudos to the late Mike Munns for making it possible for Arkansans to take this step for themselves,” remarked Chintan Desai, Democratic nominee for US Congress.
“Fantastic news for our LGBTQ brothers, sisters and siblings in Arkansas,” reacted Equality NC, a LGBT+ advocacy group from North Carolina.
Last week, New York City joined the states of California, Washington, New Jersey, Oregon—and Arkansas—in offering the marker ‘X’ on official documents without the need for medical consultation.
This article was updated with comments from the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration received after publication.
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