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Third gender option may be coming to Oregon's driver's licenses by summer

Oregon Driver License photo

More than 75 people attended Wednesday's public meeting in Southeast Portland to convince the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles to create a third gender option to the state's driver's licenses and identification cards.

The DMV held another public hearing in Eugene recently. More than 50 people attended that meeting.

Oregon DMV spokesman David House says of the approximately 50 people who attended, 22 testified. All of them, he said, were in support of the DMV adding a third gender option.

If the DMV approves the change, Oregon would become the first U.S. state to allow residents to identify as "non-binary," neither male nor female. The designation would be signified by an "X."

Last year, a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge allowed Portland Army veteran Jaime Shupe to legally identify as neither male nor female. Legal experts believed the ruling was a first in the United States.

In doing so, it required the state to explore a third gender option.

Basic Rights Oregon Co-Executive Director Nancy Haque says it validates those who identify as transgender.

"There're transgender people and there has always been," Haque told KATU. "It's just that we're at a point in society where we are recognizing the rights of transgender people."

According to The Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles, an estimated 20,000 Oregonians identify as transgender, and 1.4 million nationwide.

"The person's name is still their name. Their height is still their height. I don't think it changes anything because our gender shouldn't make a difference," Haque told KATU. "Gender is a spectrum, and along the spectrum are many people who do not identify as either a male or female."

House told KATU for the past year, the DMV consulted with stakeholders, including local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, insurance companies and organizations. He says, if approved, the ID could be used out of state, airports and on legal documents without a problem.

"When a state updates the format of the driver license: upgrades, its security features, for example, there is a national system to share that information with other DMVs," House said. "So, if I show up to another state and show them this totally new driver's license, they are already aware of it."

House says the DMV will review all testimony, and then decide how to best change the DMV's administrative rule. Once that is complete, it may only take a month for non-binary designated identification cards and driver's licenses to become available.

You can still submit testimony by mailing a letter addressed to the DMV at 1905 Lana Avenue NE, Salem, Oregon 97314, or by emailing Lauri Kunze at: lauri.g.kunze@odot.state.or.us

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