Indiana residents seeking a nonbinary driver’s license or other form of state-issued identification can finally get what they need. The state started offering an “X” marker on their IDs, as opposed to just “M” or “F,” an Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicle spokesperson told NBC News.
“The ‘X’ designation is in response to constituents requesting a nonbinary marker,” spokesperson Susie Geyer told NBC News. “Indiana has joined other states and industry groups, such as the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, that already recognize the designation.”
The move was not a benevolent one, it seems. Katherine Wood, an attorney with Indiana Legal Services, has been trying to change the state policy since 2017 and the BMV agreed to issue nonbinary IDs after ILS threatened legal action.
“In a state known for its anti-LGBTQ laws, policies, and politicians, the BMV chose to recognize people with nonbinary genders without a legal battle,” Megan Stuart, the LGBTQ+ project director at ILS, said.
A nonbinary public defender, Ash Kulak, who worked alongside Wood to advocate for nonbinary IDs, was the second Indiana resident to get an ID with a nonbinary gender designation.
“Personally, I like knowing that I can hand over my ID and not have someone immediately know what a doctor thought about my sex assigned at birth, not have someone from an institution try to confirm their suspicions about what I could possibly be,” Kulak said.
Indiana joins six states and Washington, D.C. on the list of states that allow for a designation beyond “M” or “F” on driver’s licenses — Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota and Oregon all give residents the option, as well. New York City Mayor de Blasio also recently announced that New York City would allow its residents to designate a third gender on its ID cards, six months after the city announced a third gender option on birth certificates.
Indiana, the state where Vice President Mike Pence was once governor, does not have the best record when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community. He passed a “religious freedom” bill allowing for discrimination against LGBTQ+ people and even refused to follow the Obama administration’s directive to allow trans students to use the restroom that matched their gender identity.
Just last month in Indiana, the state senate stripped a hate crimes bill of provisions allowing for the protection of LGBTQ+ people. Indiana is still one of 20 states without hate crimes legislation protecting people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to NBC News.
“We don’t have any statewide protections when it comes to employment and housing,” Julie Walsh, executive director of the trans support group GenderNexus, told NBC News. “People can still be fired or refused employment based on who they are. Anything that works to promote safety and increased access for people in our community needs to be addressed.”