The Oregon Transportation Commission has decided that starting July 1, residents will have a third option to the age-old question: M or F? If you don’t feel like you belong in either category, you will now be able to choose an “X”.
A new word in American lexicon, “nonbinary” refers to someone who is neither male nor female. The word has now become an official part of getting a driver’s license and identification card in Oregon, which has been established as the first state in the country where people now do not have to “identify” themselves as either sex.
The change was initially announced last summer, after a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge established an historical precedent by ruling that Portland Army veteran Jamie Shupe could legally identify as neither male nor female.
Since then, officials from the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles asked for public testimony and received 83 comments, both written and oral. Out of those comments, only 12 people expressed opposition to the change.
Transgender and intersex Oregonians love the new option, saying that it validates their identities and makes them safer whenever they show their licenses at restaurants, health clinics and airports.
Tom McClellan, division administrator for the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles, said the testimony they received was eye-opening, revealing “important insight into some DMV customers that, according to one of the witnesses, are as common as redheads.”
“People didn’t share their testimony, they shared their stories,” said McClellan. “They told us of their struggles so we would understand the need.”
According to data from The Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles, approximately 20,000 Oregonians identify as transgender. In 2015, a national survey of 28,000 transgender people revealed that more than a third did not identify themselves with either sex.
Shupe’s legal victory led to judges in Polk and Benton counties to now permit Oregonians to change their legal gender to “binary”… otherwise known as “X”.
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