Support nonbinary gender designation on state IDs by 8/15

 
Image description: White “X” over rough-textured yellow and teal background. Photo by  Clark Van Der Beken

Image description: White “X” over rough-textured yellow and teal background. Photo by Clark Van Der Beken

Governor Jay Inslee announced on July 30 that Washington state residents may soon have “X” as an option for gender designation on state identification, in addition to the current options of “Male” or “Female.” 

This proposed rule change from the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) comes almost two years after the “X” gender designation was permitted on Washington birth certificates in January 2018. Since then, the Department of Health (DOH) has processed at least 59 requests for the “X” marker on birth certificates—however, there were no structures in place to implement these changes across state departments, including the DOL. 

Teresa Berntsen, Director of the Washington State DOL, hopes to gain insight from community members affected by this proposed rule change. Stating that “identity is a fundamental human right,” Berntsen considers the importance of DOL policies for people who identify outside the gender binary: “The driver’s license or state-issued ID cards are [a person’s] primary identification documents. By acknowledging there are more than two forms of gender, [the DOL is] acknowledging basic human rights.” 

If the DOL implements the proposed rule change—which could happen as soon as October—Washington would be the 17th state to allow the “X” gender marker on state identification. In addition to creating more uniformity in identification documents across the state, this rule change would serve as a major win for nonbinary recognition, visibility, and validation from a state whose governor issued a directive in 2016 stating: “Every person in the state of Washington has the right to feel safe, enjoy the benefits of public services and fully participate in civic life.”

The DOL is hosting three public hearings this week in order to receive feedback about the proposed change. Supportive public comments are critical to this rule being approved and implemented. Public commentary periods risk being overrun by waves of anti-trans backlash and harmful rhetoric, as has been demonstrated in the past. 

Gender diverse folks and their advocates are strongly encouraged to submit comments through one of the following avenues by August 15:

Website

Rulemaking Comment Form

Email

rulescoordinator@dol.wa.gov

Mail

Rules Coordinator
P.O. Box 9020
Olympia, WA 98507

Attending a public hearing

Monday, Aug. 12 / 5:00pm
Seattle Public Library
1000 Fourth Avenue Seattle, WA 98104

Tuesday, Aug. 13 / 5:00pm
State Capital, Columbia Room 
416 Sid Snyder Avenue Southwest Olympia, WA 98504

Thursday, Aug. 15 / 4:00pm 
Spokane Public Library, South Hill 
3324 South Perry Street Spokane, WA 9920

If you have questions or need a reasonable accommodation for the hearings, please email Ellis Starrett at rulescoordinator@dol.wa.gov, or call 360–902–3846.

The Lavender Rights Project’s Equal Justice Works Fellow will be at Boots Bakery & Lounge (24 W. Main Ave) in Spokane on Wednesday, August 14 from 3:00-7:00pm. Community members are encouraged to stop by and get all of the information and resources needed to make a comment, including comment cards to submit via mail. For more information about submitting comments—from any part of the state—please email Dusty Lamay at dusty@lavenderrightsproject.org or call the Lavender Rights Project at 206-639-7955.

 
Lavender Rights Project