Florida bans changing driver’s licenses to show gender identity instead of sex

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Florida bans changing driver’s licenses to show gender identity instead of sex

Florida will no longer allow residents to change their driver’s licenses to reflect their gender identity instead of their biological sex, much to the chagrin of transgender rights advocates.

The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles department said in a memo released Tuesday that it has rescinded its previous policy allowing drivers to change the gender markers on their licenses, stating that such rules “are not supported by statutory authority.”

“Permitting an individual to alter his or her license to reflect an internal sense of gender role or identity, which is neither immutable nor objectively verifiable, undermines the purpose of an identification record and can frustrate the state’s ability to enforce its laws,” said the Jan. 25 memo from Robert Kynoch, deputy executive director, to “County Tax Collectors.”



He said those who misrepresent their gender, which is “understood as sex,” on their driver’s license may be subject to criminal and civil penalties, including “cancellation, suspension, or revocation of his or her driver license.”

Those blasting the decision included Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried, who said that “Florida Republicans’ obsession with trans people has to stop.”

“Instead of addressing our raging property insurance crisis or out-of-control rent hikes, the GOP continues to pursue blatantly transphobic policies to serve their made-up culture wars,” she said in a statement.

“Erasing and criminalizing trans people is absolutely disgusting and can’t be allowed to stand,” she said.

Transgender persons may still obtain driver’s licenses in Florida and change their names on the licenses with a court order.

Transgender activist Erin Reed said it would force transgender residents to “out” themselves when asked for identification, which “could result in many trans Floridians losing driving privileges and will likely force many out of the state.”

Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani called it “another gross example of how every state agency has been weaponize[d] to attack trans people.”

“Instead of addressing the property insurance crisis, this is what our state is doing. Shameful,” she said on X.

But others told Ms. Eskamani that the sex designation on driver’s licenses needs to be accurate for reasons such as medical emergencies.

“Anna, for medical and security reasons, first responders need to be sure of the sex of the person they’re dealing with in an emergency situation,” said Jack Lombardi II, a 2022 candidate for the Republican nomination for a House seat in Illinois. “Therefore, commonsense must be applied to the ID conversation.”

A bill currently moving through the Republican-led House would codify into law the department’s rule — which could be undone with the stroke of a Democratic governor’s pen — requiring licenses and identification cards to reflect sex at birth, not gender identity.

Floridians seeking to change the gender markers on their driver’s licenses were previously required to submit a letter from a physician “stating that the applicant is undergoing appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition,” according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Twenty-two states allow drivers to use the neutral “X” gender market instead of “M” for male or “F” for female, while 10 states require certification from medical providers, according to the Movement Advancement Project map.

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