National News

Arkansas rolls back gender-neutral ID policy

todayMarch 14, 2024


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(NEW YORK) — Arkansas residents will no longer be allowed to use gender markers on their state identifications cards – previously noted with an X, the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) announced Tuesday.

The DFA is also rescinding its existing administrative practice that allows license holders to change their gender “without any verifiable information,” the announcement reads. All previously issued licenses and IDs with the “X” designation will remain valid through the existing expiration date, according to the agency.

Arkansas had been offering gender-neutral options and allowing transgender people to change their gender markers without documentation since 2010, according to LGBTQ news outlet INTO.

The “X” option gives people who are gender-nonconforming or intersex an option to not define as one of the other two gender options on IDs. Going forward, residents will have either an “F” or “M” on their IDs or driver’s license to denote female or male.

Residents who wish to change genders on drivers licenses and state identification documents will need to have the gender as indicated on an original or amended birth certificate.

“This change announced today reflects a commonsense approach that ensures a license or ID issued by the State of Arkansas is based on objective, verifiable information,” said DFA Secretary Jim Hudson. “All of our stakeholders in law enforcement, other government agencies, caregivers, schools, and businesses depend on DFA-issued licenses and IDs to keep our communities safe and to prevent fraud.”

The move was criticized by the ACLU of Arkansas, which argued in a statement that the policy threatens “the safety and dignity of transgender, nonbinary, and intersex Arkansans.”

“Accurate and consistent identity documents are a fundamental necessity, enabling individuals to travel, secure employment, open bank accounts, and enroll in educational programs,” the statement read. “For transgender people, in particular, an ID that accurately reflects their true self is not just a matter of dignity — it is crucial for their safety and well-being.”

The ACLU of Arkansas also argued that the policy change erases “the existence of nonbinary and intersex Arkansans by denying them identity documents that reflect their true selves, forcing them into categories that do not represent their identities.”

At least 22 states, the District of Columbia, and federal agencies allow residents to use an “X” gender marker on identification documents and do not require provider certification to change gender markers, according to the LGBTQ policy tracking group, Movement Advancement Project.

The U.S. Department of State allows passport holders to change their gender without documentation, and introduced gender-neutral markers for passports in 2022.

Meanwhile, some states have been making the shift away from gender marker changes.

Oklahoma passed the first explicit ban on nonbinary gender markers in 2022, and Florida and Kansas recently banned transgender people from changing their drivers licenses and IDs to match their gender identity.

“This policy is just common sense,” said Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement Tuesday, calling policies like gender-neutral ID markers “nonsense.”

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