More than 100 Marylanders opted to list their gender as “X” or “unspecified” on their driver’s licenses and identification cards under a state law that went into effect on Oct. 1.
In the first month that Marylanders had the option of “X” — in addition to “F” for female and “M” for male — 88 people changed their gender identification, according to the Motor Vehicle Administration.
Another 15 new licenses and identification cards were issued with the “X” designation.
State lawmakers passed a law earlier this year requiring the additional gender option to accommodate the needs of residents who are “non-binary,” meaning they don’t identify as male or female. An individual does not need to provide proof of gender when selecting among F, M and X.
Sen. Will Smith, who sponsored the bill, said he was pleased to see the change making a difference in people’s lives. The Montgomery County Democrat said the bill was a relatively low-cost way “to make us a more radically inclusive place.”
Several other states and the District of Columbia have adopted the unspecified choice for licenses and ID cards. The nation’s major airlines also allow passengers to select “undisclosed” or “unspecified” when booking tickets.
In the months since the law was passed for driver’s licenses, Del. Julie Palakovich Carr has been contacting other state agencies to urge them to voluntarily adopt the same practice.
In response to Palakovich Carr’s request, Maryland State Board of Elections authorized its staff earlier this year to make the change for voter registration.
Since then, Palakovich Carr, also a Montgomery County Democrat, found other agencies that have forms that offer only two gender options.
The Maryland State Police said it already has three gender options for certain licenses, including handgun licenses, and is working with its information technology contractor on updating all licenses that can be accessed through its “eMDSP” website.
The Department of Natural Resources said it would be “extremely cost prohibitive” to update its COMPASS system for fishing, hunting and other licenses. But Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio wrote that the agency is in the early stages of planning for a new licensing system and “could explore the option again at a future date.”
The Department of Health said it would seek guidance from the federal government on handling gender identification in forms for Medicaid and other programs.
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And the Administrative Office of the Courts said a committee that handles jury issues would discuss the issue as it relates to juror qualification forms.