The Attorney General of Indiana is reportedly undermining rule changes that would allow trans and nonbinary people to update their gender markers on state identification.
Earlier this year, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles announced it would begin offering a nonbinary “X” option on IDs and driver’s licenses. The department has allowed trans people to update their gender on identification with a doctor’s note since 2009 but had not permitted those who identify as neither male nor female to have a marker that reflects their identity.
The announcement made Mike Pence's home state one of 13 to allow residents to choose a gender marker outside the binary on state-issued IDs.
However, that inclusive decision was met with immediate opposition. Republican lawmakers introduced a bill amendment that would require trans people to change their birth certificates before receiving a corrected ID or driver’s license.
The process of updating a birth certificate, which can cost hundreds of dollars and hours of lost wages, is prohibitively expensive for a population which already faces higher rates of poverty. According to a 2015 survey from the National Center for Trans Equality, just nine percent of transgender people have their lived gender noted on their birth certificate.
In comments to Rewire.News, the American Civil Liberties Union called the amendment “spiteful” said it could “invite discrimination and, in some cases, violence.”
The legislation, Senate Bill 182, was ultimately removed from consideration.
But Attorney General Curtis Hill has revived attempts to undermine Indiana’s nonbinary ID regulations. A new policy proposed by Hill’s office would add an extra step to the process by requiring the Indiana Department of Health sign off on requests for gender-neutral identification and give applicants an approval form to take to the BMV.
Although Hill was not quoted directly by the local news station WLFI, he told the outlet that he doesn’t feel the public was given enough notice about the new nonbinary IDs. The identification was set to be rolled out in October.
Supporters of the plan say it’s not discriminatory, just common-sense.
Indiana BMV Commissioner Peter Lacy told WTHR that the department “is not in the medical field” and isn’t qualified to make calls on an individual’s gender identity. He added, “It makes more sense that the doctor’s note be a state department of health form and that the state department of health would administer the physician portion.”
Members of the LGBTQ+ community, however, want as simple a process a possible to ensure trans people can take advantage of the nonbinary markers.
“It’s very important for trans folks to have identification that matches how they present themselves to the world,” Lorn Sadler, vice president of Pride Lafayette, told WTHR, adding that having correct documentation “protects them [from] discrimination” and from “potential violence.”
“We want policies in place that will make it easier for trans folks to navigate their lives,” Sadler added. “We don’t support any more policies that make it more difficult.”
Hill has not announced when the new changes will go into effect.