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Oregon on track to be first state to offer these historic driver licenses

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Residents of Oregon may soon be able to identify as gender-neutral on driver licenses and identification cards as the state looks to become the first in the nation to offer a “nonbinary” option.

The proposed change, which does not require a legislative vote and will be discussed in a public hearing in Portland on Wednesday, could mean the new option would be available as early as this summer, The Oregonian reported. In addition to “F” and “M” on licenses and identification cards, residents will be able to choose “X” as their sex.

Officials from the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles said they had no opposition to the planned change, which was first announced last summer.

Transgender residents claimed the change would make them feel safer when asked to show identification.

In what legal experts think might be the first ruling of its kind in the U.S., a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge last year allowed a resident to legally identify as neither male nor female. After the court win, Portland Army veteran Jamie Shupe wanted a new license to reflect the gender-neutral status which prompted the proposed changes.

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“We needed time,” David House, a spokesman for the department of motor vehicles, said noting that agencies had to update their systems to allow the new gender designation. Judges in Polk and Benton counties were already allowing the legal gender change for transgender residents since Shupe’s win.

via The Oregonian

Shupe, who retired from the Army in 2000 as a sergeant first class, pointed out that gender is not listed on military identification cards.

“After serving honorably and having earned the Army achievement medal eight times, the Army commendation medal four times, and the meritorious service medal twice in my service to this nation, I think I deserve the right to properly classify my identity here on the homeland,” Shupe said.

Oregon law does not stipulate that a choice has to be made of male or female on licenses and identification cards so a legislative vote is not required, according to House. Applicants will simply need to pay a replacement or renewal fee to change their license once the rule passes.

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According to The Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles, about 20,000 Oregonians identify as transgender.

“We have a system in much of this nation that is forcing intersex, transgender and nonbinary people to make a choice between male or female, when it doesn’t fit them or accurately describe them,” Shupe said, according to The Oregonian. “In the case of people like me, it’s like making a mixed-race kid identify as white, and pretend to be white and have the doctors trying to make them white.”

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Frieda Powers

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