Florida bars trans people from updating gender on driver’s licenses

Transgender people in Florida are no longer allowed to update the gender on their driver’s licenses, USA Today reported.

Florida Department Official announces removal of gender marker provision for transgender individuals in Driver License Manual

In a memo dated Friday, Robert Kynoch, the deputy executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, informed the department’s executive director about the decision to eliminate a provision related to “gender requirements” in the Driver License Operations Manual.

Previously, residents in Florida could alter their gender marker by presenting either a court order for a name change or an official physician’s letter as evidence of gender transition treatment, as per the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Kynoch clarified that the department lacks the legal authority to enforce provisions allowing individuals to change the gender marker on their licenses, NBC News reported.

“A driver license is an identification document and, as such, serves a critical role in assisting public and private entities in correctly establishing the identity of a person presenting the license,” Kynoch wrote. “Permitting an individual to alter his or her license to reflect an internal sense of gender role or identity, which is neither immutable nor objectively verifiable, undermines the purpose of an identification record and can frustrate the state’s ability to enforce its laws.”

Going forward, Florida licenses can only be replaced in specific instances such as loss, theft, or when there are changes in personal details like name, address, or restrictions.

Historical interpretations and document requirements on Florida’s Gender Marker Policy

Additionally, Kynoch emphasized that in the context of the gender requirements provision, the term “gender” is not related to an individual’s internal sense of gender identity but is historically and commonly interpreted as a synonym for ‘sex,’ determined by inherent and unchangeable biological and genetic characteristics.

According to Ash Orr, spokesperson for the NCTE, the new restriction contributes to a series of detrimental policies in Florida specifically affecting transgender individuals.

The provision that outlines how the department determines gender for a newly issued license will remain unchanged, as per the memo and Molly Best, the director of communications for the department. Individuals seeking a new Florida license can establish their gender by providing supporting documents, such as a driver’s license from another state, a U.S. passport, or a U.S. birth certificate, among other options.

Florida state Representative Anna Eskamani, a Democrat, initially shared Kynoch’s memo on the social media platform X. Best later verified its authenticity in an email to NBC News and shared a copy of the technical advisory confirming the updated policy.

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