LGBTQ, civil rights organizations celebrate agreement with Maine BMV that allows non-binary gender designation on driver’s licenses, ID cards

PORTLAND — EqualityMaine, GLAD, MaineTransNet, and the ACLU of Maine joined together today to celebrate an agreement with the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles, which will begin offering the option of a non-binary gender designation on driver’s licenses and identification cards. The agreement is the result of a complaint filed with the Maine Human Rights Commission by Portland attorney and EqualityMaine’s board president, Zack Paakkonen, on behalf of his client, Ian-Meredythe Dehne Lindsey. In June of 2017, Dehne Lindsey, a resident of South Portland, requested a driver’s license with a non-binary gender marker at the Presumpscot Street BMV branch office in Portland, but was denied as a result of current computer system limitations. After receiving the complaint, the Maine Human Rights Commission invited the parties to participate in mediation; this agreement is the result of the mediation process. At this time, the face of existing credentials show an “M” for male or “F” for female. Upon receipt of a completed Gender Designation Form, the BMV will issue a sticker for the license or ID that will read: “Gender has been changed to X — Non-binary.” In conjunction with a system upgrade and new design for licenses and IDs, which will be completed no later than July 2019, the gender information on the front of the card will be displayed as “M”, “F” or “X” and the sticker will be phased out. By making this change, Maine becomes the first state in New England to adopt non-binary gender designations on driver’s licenses and ID cards. Maine is the third state in the country to adopt this policy; Washington, DC and Oregon have already begun offering a non-binary gender designation on their driver’s licenses, and California will implement the change in January 2019. The following quotes can be attributed as noted: Ian-Meredythe Dehne Lindsey, the client in the case: “Words cannot adequately express the relief I feel, and how happy I am, that my ID will now reflect such an integral part of my identity and who I am.” Zack Paakkonen, the attorney who represented Dehne Lindsey and Board President of EqualityMaine: “It’s exciting to see Maine’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles adopt this change. We know gender is a spectrum and some people don’t identify as male or female. It’s important that driver’s licenses and other forms of IDs recognize people who are non-binary. Removing barriers for people is critical to helping all of us live healthy, productive lives.” Quinn Gormley, Executive Director, MaineTransNet: “This change represents the next major step towards full legal recognition of the lives of transgender Mainers. Affirming and accurate ID’s help to break down significant barriers to housing, employment, and education faced by many transgender people. We’re celebrating this progress, and the visibility it brings to beloved non-binary members of our community. ” Mary Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD): “Identity documents play a substantial role in how we all navigate the world. Without an ID that matches who you are, trouble is sure to follow. All people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and this simple change makes that possible for more Mainers today.” Oamshri Amarasingham, Advocacy Director, ACLU of Maine: “We are thrilled by this important move by the BMV. Transgender and gender nonconforming people, like all people, deserve to live their lives without the government compromising their privacy, safety, autonomy, dignity, or equality.” Founded in 1984, EqualityMaine is dedicated to achieving full equality under the law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Mainers, and currently has more than 76,000 members statewide. MaineTransNet is a community-based organization that supports and empowers transgender people across Maine to create a world where they can thrive through peer-based support groups, community organizing, education, and advocacy. Through strategic litigation, public policy advocacy, and education, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) works in New England and nationally to create a just society free of discrimination based on gender identity and expression, HIV status, and sexual orientation. The ACLU of Maine is the state’s guardian of liberty, working in the courts, the legislature and the public sphere to defend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for all Mainers. # # #