New state law allows third gender designation on driver’s licences, IDs

  • IGE

Hawaii is the latest state to allow a third gender designation on driver’s licenses and identification cards.

Gov. David Ige on Wednesday signed House Bill 1165, legislation that expands the gender options beyond “male” or “female” on the state-issued IDs.

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Beginning July 1, 2020, individuals can select “M” for male, “F” for female or “X” for a nonbinary option when applying for a license. Nonbinary means an individual’s gender identity is not exclusively male or female, or falls outside of traditional gender classifications.

Currently, Hawaii licenses are marked by gender, which the Legislature says can lead to gender-identity and gender-identity discrimination “and are not rationally related to a legitimate policy goal.”

Now, the law requires a license to include a person’s full legal name, date of birth, gender designation, residence address and license number.

“Mandatory binary classification does not accommodate the wide range of natural biological variations or gender expressions,” the legislation reads. “Additionally, it is overly burdensome for transgender individuals to obtain a new sex or gender marker on a driver’s license.”

The law also allows license applicants to choose or change their gender without requiring documentation.

“Hawaii has the highest percentage of transgender individuals in the United States, which I think demonstrates our commitment to everyone being treated equally,” Ige said during the signing ceremony.

The new law is “an important way forward,” he said.

“I think it’s amazing,” said Coan Yates-Tese of Mountain View about the legislation. “I think it adds another step closer to a more inclusive Hawaii.”

Having the “X” option gives people who don’t identify as male or female an identity, he said, “because now they have a box to check. It’s agonizing having to choose a box that doesn’t match your own personal identity, it doesn’t match who you are.”

Yates-Tese, who is transgender, said that five years ago, he selected male instead of female on his license.

“It literally brought me to tears being able to check that ‘male’ box … ,” he said, adding that he “couldn’t imagine looking at the last five years not have something on my license that reflects” who he is.

It was confirmation from the state “I was accepted, that it was OK and … I could be who I wanted to be here,” Yates-Tese said.

For individuals who don’t identify as male or female, being able to use a license that reflects that is “going to be life-changing.”

HB 1165 was one of three bills Ige signed Wednesday relating to gender identity.

The governor also signed House Bill 711, which prohibits the use of someone’s actual or perceived gender, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation as a defense in murder or attempted murder cases.

Courts also are to instruct juries to disregard biases and prejudices if a defendant’s explanation includes a victim’s gender, gender identity or expression.

“With the signing of these two historic pieces of legislation, June 26, aka ‘Equality Day,’ has cemented its place within Hawaii’s LGBTQIA+ history and our fight for justice and equality for all,” said Michael Golojuch Jr., chairperson of the LGBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, in a news release. “Marriage equality was not the beginning nor even the end in our community’s struggle, as we have shown with the laws we have passed over the past five years. We have more work to do from protecting LGBTQIA+ youth to our over representation in the prison system. … Today is great day, but we are far from being done fighting.”

Ige also signed House Bill 664, which clarifies that last year’s ban on sexual orientation change efforts applied to conversion therapy practices or treatments that aim to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The governor said the three bills “really demonstrate Hawaii’s commitment to ensuring that everyone in our community can be and will be treated fairly.”

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Yates-Tese said the new laws are making “huge strides forward for the transgender community that just allows us to feel a little bit safer in the state of Hawaii and allows us to move one step closer to full inclusion, which I think is the cornerstone of the state and people of Hawaii.”

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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