For years, Andi Raine has identified as non-binary, meaning neither male nor female. But when forced to note gender on official forms, Raine, who prefers to use they/them pronouns, has settled for female.
"It gives me discomfort every time I do it," Raine says about checking off the "female" box.
But when it comes to their driver's license, Raine no longer has to settle. On Friday, November 30, Raine became one of Colorado's first recipients of a non-binary ID, leaving the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles office in Lakewood on the 30th carrying a new driver's license with an "X," which represents non-binary identification, taking the place previously occupied by an "F." At least twelve other Coloradans have obtained such IDs since.
"I'm so happy to have an ID that matches my gender presentation," Raine says.
Colorado is the most recent state to offer non-binary IDs, joining California, Oregon, Minnesota, Maine and Washington, D.C.
This update has been years in the making, according to Daniel Ramos, executive director of One Colorado. In the past, anyone interested in changing their sex on their driver's license had to have sex-reassignment surgery and submit a note from a medical doctor to the DMV, according to Ramos. Those requirements were done away with two years ago, making the process for changing sex on a license much less challenging. But that policy change didn't leave room for anyone who wanted to identify as non-binary.
Then came a September 2018 Colorado District Court Decision, in which Judge R. Brooke Jackson sided with plaintiff Dana Alix Zzyym regarding Zzyym's request to have "X" on Zzyym's passport. That and another case convinced the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles to make the change, which only requires a note from a therapist.
"We felt like it was our duty based on the court cases," says Sarah Werner, communications manager at the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles.
But just because the ID conundrum is now solved for non-binary individuals doesn't mean they don't still face obstacles. Raine is already anticipating issues when filling out official forms that don't have a third-sex option, something that has always been a problem but may become even more complicated with the "X" mark on their Colorado ID. Hoping to find work as a budtender at a dispensary, Raine will be required to undergo a background check, and most forms in the process offer only the male and female option.
Meanwhile, One Colorado is working on the Birth Certificate Modernization Act. The bill, which passed the state House in 2017 but failed in the Senate (and has failed at the legislature every year since 2015), would end the current sex reassignment surgery and judicial approval requirements for switching someone's sex on a birth certificate. Ramos says that the bill will be reintroduced in January 2019, and he expects it to pass now that Democrats control the state legislature.
Ramos and his colleagues are happy about the latest changes to IDs. "This shows the leadership in Colorado to continue to send a message that all are welcome here," he says.
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