• Drivers in Washington will soon have a third gender option to choose from. (DOL)Source: DOL
"These policies have been adopted in so many states so quickly because they are common sense."
By
Samuel Leighton-Dore

2 Aug 2019 - 1:24 PM  UPDATED 2 Aug 2019 - 1:24 PM

Washington state and Pennsylvania are the latest US states to add a third gender option to their driver's licenses, with 'X' set to become available to those who don't identify as male or female.

"Identity is a fundamental human right," Washington state's Department of Licensing Director Teresa Berntsen said in a statement, according to CNN.

She added: "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."

The changes could be in place by October this year - bringing the total number of US states to recognise a third gender option to 14.

The move was marked down as a win by LGBTIQ+ organisations.

"In three years, there's been movement at a lightning pace on this issue," Gillian Branstetter from the National Center for Transgender Equality told CNN.

"These policies have been adopted in so many states so quickly because they are common sense. This is a big step toward recognising the rights and dignity of transgender people."

Elayne Wylie of the Gender Justice League told the Seattle Times that adding a third gender option to driver's licenses was only a small step in addressing a much broader scope of injustice faced by transgender and gender non-conforming individuals.

“We’re addressing the violence that people experience for being their most authentic selves,” Wylie said.

“We’re addressing … the discrimination that still exists in 2019 just for … being trans and trying to be an employee, or to get a job, or to find housing, or to access healthcare.”

In an op-ed published on Medium, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee wrote: "The X gender designation option means a gender that is not exclusively male or female."

He explained: "The Department of Licensing proposed the rule change earlier this year. The change would also impact instruction permits or ID cards and would create more consistency with Washington birth certificates that now list an X."

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