Oregon offers gender-neutral identification option

By: Zoe Strickland
Managing Editor

Due to a new legislative bill, Oregon may become the first state to allow gender-neutral options for state identification cards and driver’s licenses. The bill has made it past the Oregon state legislature, and is currently awaiting a signature from the governor before it can become a law.

The third gender option seeks to be more inclusive to Oregon residents who don’t exist within the confines of the gender binary. Rather than having to select ‘male’ or ‘female,’ the new option will be listed on ID cards as ‘X.’

According to CNN, “If approved, the law could go into effect by summer.”

This decision was influenced by a court ruling in June of 2016 which allowed Jamie Shupe, an army veteran, to be legally viewed as nonbinary.

“Oregon law has allowed for people to petition a court for a gender change for years, but the law doesn’t specify that it has to be either male or female,” said Lake J. Perriguey, the civil rights attorney who filed Shupe’s case, in a CNN article from June 12, 2016.

Though the court approved Shupe’s appeal to make their official gender nonbinary, Oregon didn’t have a set way to change their driver’s license.

“After winning in court, Shupe’s lawyer sent the Multnomah County judge’s order to Oregon’s motor vehicles department. Legally, Shupe was neither male nor female, and Shupe wanted a driver license that reflected that,” reported an article from The Oregonian. By pushing to allow the change to be made on official materials like ID cards, the state is allowing citizens to express their gender identity in a state-recognized official capacity.

Though Oregon is on track to be the first state in the nation to allow gender-neutral terminology, Ontario, Canada began using gender-neutral options for drivers licenses last year and, in March, California legislature introduced a bill that would allow drivers to identify as ‘non binary.’

People within the state of Oregon who are interested in taking steps to change their gender identity in an official capacity can go to www.transequality.org/documents/state/oregon for a list of the appropriate documents.

Contact the author at journalmanaging@wou.edu