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Michigan may add non-binary option to driver's licenses

Posted at 12:33 PM, Jan 14, 2020

LANSING, Mich. — Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson's office is working to add a third gender option on Michigan licenses.

The possibility to add a non-binary option might be complete by 2021, according to The Detroit News. Michigan would become the 14th state to make such a change.

“At this exploratory stage we have not yet finished the analysis of whether or not legislative approval would be needed to include a non-binary option," said spokesman Jake Rollow.

It is not yet clear how the designation would appear on Michigan licenses.

Washington, D.C., and New York City have adopted similar options, which largely allows drivers to select an “X” instead of “M” or “F” to indicate their gender.

Benson had previously attempted for a third gender designation, but the department's driver’s license database software prevented her from doing so. So instead she announced a new policy making it easier for people to change their gender designation from male to female or female to male on state-issued driver's licenses and ID cards.

The old policy required Michigan residents to provide a birth certificate, passport or court order to change the designation. Benson’s change allows individuals to change their designation by filling out a form, visiting an office to have their photo taken and paying the $9 correction fee for a driver’s license or $10 fee for a state ID.

Equality Michigan, an anti-violence and political advocacy organization serving Michigan's LGBTQ community, applauds Benson's efforts.

“Some transgender individuals don't carry IDs or face trouble when they do because their designation doesn't match the way they present,” said Erin Knott, executive director of Equality Michigan.

“Modernizing our current policy helps to remove barriers,” Knott said. “It also says all Michiganders, including transgender individuals, are deserving of dignity and respect."