The new move also acknowledges that there are more than just two genders and provides an option for those who identify as non-binary.
New Jersey will now allow people to use "X" as a gender identifier on driver's licenses and other identification. The state joins 19 other states and Washington DC that allow people to use "X" to denote the person's gender is unspecified. The inclusive change is a welcome move for those who identify as nonbinary — someone who doesn't identify as a man or woman. This also acknowledges that there are more than just two genders. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission announced that the change is not limited to nonbinary people but can also be used by those who don't want their gender specified on their license or other identification.
New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission had announced on Monday that the additional gender option was officially made available to comply with part of legislation passed in 2018 to allow residents to change their gender identification more easily. The commission added that the "X" gender option was supposed to made available by late 2020 but was delayed on account of the pandemic. "Diversity and inclusion are core values for New Jersey, and for all of us at the MVC," said agency Chief Administrator Sue Fulton in a statement. "We know this new option will be deeply impactful for many residents, as access to resources and the ability to live and work freely so often hinges on having documentation that correctly reflects your identity."
The Movement Advancement Project, which tracks LGBTQ policies across America, confirmed that New Jersey is one of at least 20 states that allowed people to use "X" as a gender identifier on state documentation. The change comes after prolonged activism from the transgender community demanding states be more inclusive and make it easier to change gender markers on documents. The National Center for Transgender Equality said correct gender identification on official documents helps protect the safety of transgender people and enables better access to housing, employment, or other public benefits. According to National Center for Transgender Equality, just 21 percent of transgender people who have transitioned have been able to update all of their IDs and records. Garden State residents who intend to change their designation to "X" should fill out the associated form, and head to an MVC Licensing Center as a walk-in. They will have to hand over their current license or ID, and pay a standard fee of $11.
Christian Fuscarino, leader of the LGBTQ organization Garden State Equality, thanked state officials for taking another step to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ New Jerseyans. "We're thrilled that New Jersey has joined 19 other states and Washington, DC in offering X gender markers on driver's licenses and state IDs. This option will allow New Jerseyans, particularly nonbinary and intersex people, to enjoy a right many of us take for granted — having an ID that accurately reflects who we are," said Christian Fuscarino.
Washington state and Pennsylvania added the third gender option on driver's licenses in 2019, stating that "identity is a fundamental human right." It was also accepting that gender goes beyond the binary options of men and women. "The driver's license or the state-issued ID cards are your primary identification documents. So by us acknowledging there are more than two forms of gender, we are acknowledging basic human rights," said Teresa Berntsen, Washington state's Department of Licensing Director, reported CNN.
Gender 'X' to Be Option for New Jersey Driver's Licenses and ID's https://t.co/xRRcGVHRSq— Aaron Abbott (@AaronAb15661959) April 21, 2021
"In three years, there's been movement at a lightning pace on this issue," said Gillian Branstetter, a spokeswoman for the National Center for Transgender Equality at the time. "These policies have been adopted in so many states so quickly because they are common sense. This is a big step toward recognizing the rights and dignity of transgender people," said of the decision to add a third gender option on state identification.