Back in the seventies, California passed legislation regarding identification cards that was truly progressive; I personally benefitted from the activism of Californian transsexual women that did work long before I was out of the closet. Transsexual Californians have relatively simple and accomplishable procedures for changing one’s gender marker on California state identification cards (which include drivers licenses), and sometimes I find it too easy to take for granted.
Well, Pennsylvania has just changed their policy on gender markers for their state identification cards. From the Equality Pennsylvania press release Equality Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Reach Breakthrough Agreement on Gender Marker Policy:
Harrisburg: After several months of positive and thoughtful discussion, Equality Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) today announced that they have successfully reached agreement on a change in gender marker policy. ”Gender Markers” refer to those ways in which individuals present themselves mostly on official documentation. For example, on a driver’s license your “gender marker” would refer to your name and photograph.
“I want to applaud the Department of Transportation for the careful and intelligent way they have handled this discussion,” remarked Equality Pennsylvania Executive Director, Ted Martin. ”From the very beginning, they recognized what the American Psychological Association, over 25 other states and the U. S. Department of State has been realizing all along; that this just makes sense and is the right thing to do. This simple and cost-free change in policy will make lives better and that’s really the most important point in all this.”
Under previous policy, transgender individuals looking to be represented on their driver’s license as their presenting gender were forced to prove that sexual reassignment surgery had occurred. With the newly adopted policy, transgender citizens of Pennsylvania will be permitted to change the designated gender on their driver’s license when they are living full-time in their new gender and it can be verified by a licensed medical or psychological caregiver.
One step forward in Pennsylvania…
…and a step backward is occurring in Michigan’s race for Secretary of State. Now two Republican primary candidates for the office have made rolling back transsexual/transgender gender marker policies to one similar to Pennsylvania’s recently changed policy. In other words, as we’re watching many Republicans on the national stage making a wedge issue of Muslims, at least two Republicans in Michigan have made a wedge issue of transsexual and transgender people. Apparently, we don’t have enough minorities in the United States to express despite towards.
I already wrote about Republican Candidate Paul Scott, who in his letter announcing he was running for Secretary of State, he only had four campaign issue talking points — and trans discrimination was point number three:
There are also policies that I will work to change:
• I will stand strong against illegal immigration by verifying a valid social security number before issuing anyone a driver’s license, an issue Representative Dave Agema has been pushing for 3 years.
• I will actively push to encrypt the traceable RFID chip in the enhanced driver’s license.
• I will make it a priority to ensure transgender individuals will not be allowed to change the sex on their driver’s license in any circumstance.
• I will work tirelessly to repeal the over 0 million dollar tax increase on drivers in the form of driver responsibility fees.
After traveling around the State the past few months, I have not heard any of the other candidates for Secretary of State addressing the serious issues mentioned above.
Not to be outdone, Republican Candidate for Michigan Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson, has announced that she too is embracing changing policy for transsexual Michiganites. From the Michigan Messenger‘s Johnson Takes Hard Right Turn On LGBT Issues In GOP Primary:
Republican candidate for Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has issued a statement denying support for lesbian, gays, bisexuals and transgender people and disavowing her 2002 endorsement by the statewide gay rights group Triangle PAC.
In a move meant to match the political stance of opponent Rep. Paul Scott of Genesee County, Johnson also issued a statement saying, “No I do not support allowing people to change their gender on their license as a result of surgery or lifestyle.”
Scott entered the race in February with a great deal of attention on his announcement that he would not allow transgender residents to change their gender markers on their state ID cards.
Julie Nemecek made a comment in the Michigan Messenger article that sums up why this reversal of policy, apparently endorsed by Scott and Johnson, isn’t sound policy:
To not allow a transgender person to change their gender marker on a driver’s license is to ignore the advice of the AMA [American Medical Association], APA [American Psychological Association], WPATH [World Professional Association for Transgender Health], and other healthcare organizations that understand this medical condition. The U.S. State Department allows changes on a passport even without surgery.
One step backward in Michigan to go with our one step forward in Pennsylvania.
On the state level, we have one state take a step forward regarding gender markers on atate identification cards, and in another state we one step backward in the use of trans people as a wedge issue…specifically regarding gender markers on state identification cards.
It’s certainly an interesting time to live as a transgender and/or transsexual person in the United States.
* TransGriot: Pennsylvania Changes Trans DL Rules and Another Michigan GOP Candidate Plays The Transphobia Card