New Yorkers can now mark their gender as “X” on their state driver's license, learner’s permit or ID card just in time for Pride Month, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Friday.
The change, which takes effect Friday, is part of the state’s Gender Recognition Act, which was passed last year. The GRA expands protections for trans, gender non-conforming and non-binary New Yorkers by making it easier for people to change their names, sex designation and birth certificates to more accurately represent their gender identities. Additional protections go into effect June 24th, exactly one year from the time then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the GRA.
New York now joins 21 other states in allowing Americans to mark “X” on their ID cards. The option is available at DMV’s across the state to new applicants and New Yorkers with existing ID cards, who can now change their gender from “M” of “F” to “X”. It will become available online in July.
"Every person, regardless of their gender identity or expression, deserves to have an identity document that reflects who they are,” Gov. Hochul said in a statement.
“For a trans person to have a document that shows that the government recognizes who they are is really important,” Charlie Arrowood, an attorney and co-leader in the coalition that worked on the legislation, told Gothamist. “It also means that the government is taking steps to make sure their systems are ready to handle this so that people can use the same services and access the same things as everyone else.”
Up until last year, similar versions of the bill were introduced in the state Legislature – going back to 2017 – but never made it out of committee.
Previously, changing one’s name or gender identity on a state document was an arduous process.
Mena, a Long Island resident who withheld their last name, was one of the first to get an ID card that lists “X” under their gender. For Mena, it was an emotional moment.
“It's just really affirming to me as someone who's never really felt comfortable identifying within the gender binary,” they said. “I didn't really realize how much joy I would feel until I was there in the moment with my partner who also got ‘X’ […] when I got to that point to check the boxes, I just teared up because it was the first time that like, I didn't have to choose between two things that felt like a lie.”
Proponents of the law also point out that for trans and non-binary people, having an ID card that matches their gender is also a matter of safety.
“Even though an ‘X’ does kind of indicate that you are trans, it can be just as dangerous if you have ‘male’ or ‘female’ on there and you're not read as male or female,” Arrowood said. “So this is just a way for people to more accurately represent themselves.”