August 12, 2021
New Hampshire Eliminates Unnecessary Barrier for Designating Nonbinary Gender Marker on Driver’s Licenses, State IDs
Granite Stater’s advocacy leads to removal of medical certification requirement for gender marker updates
The New Hampshire Division of Motor Vehicles has revised the process for correcting the gender marker on a driver’s license or state ID, eliminating the requirement of a health care provider’s sworn certification that the applicant is under the provider’s care for “change of gender.” New Hampshire now joins 17 other states, including every neighboring New England state, as well as New York City and the District of Columbia, in providing a straightforward process for residents to designate the gender marker – X, F, or M – that reflects their identity.
The change, which was rolled out on the DMV website on August 2, came about thanks to a Granite State university student whose experience designating an X gender marker highlighted the unnecessary barrier presented by the medical requirement.
“My client, Rho, simply wanted a New Hampshire state ID that accurately reflects their nonbinary gender,” said Attorney Andru Volinsky of 160 Law, PLLC, who represented Rho as they navigated the process. “Being asked for a signature from a medical provider didn’t make sense and added unnecessary stress to what should have been a straightforward process. The requirement also penalizes individuals with less access to medical resources, exacerbating an already inequitable situation. I was glad to be able to assist Rho in advocating for this change that will allow them and other nonbinary residents in New Hampshire to have accurate identification.”
After a year of COVID-related near-isolation, Rho was looking forward to establishing themself as a Granite Stater by applying for their state ID and being able to meet friends and apply for jobs without fearing their identity would be questioned. They were motivated to advocate for a change for themself and other nonbinary young people in New Hampshire because encountering the request for a medical letter in order to designate an X marker felt “demeaning,” and like a “double standard.”
“As someone who is nonbinary, Indigenous and a person of color, I felt I had to stand up for all my identities,” Rho said. “Acknowledging our name and identity is a human right. It’s a means of respecting one another.” An important part of that, Rho highlighted, is having “a legitimate document that accurately expresses who I am.”
“The New Hampshire statute directing the DMV to provide the option of X markers on licenses and state IDs went into effect in January of 2020, and that law says nothing about certification by a health care provider,” says Chris Erchull, Staff Attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). “We were pleased to see that once the issue was brought to their attention, the Attorney General’s office and the Division of Motor Vehicles recognized that the health care attestation form was unnecessary and removed that form from use for any new or corrected driver’s license or state ID.”
“Inaccurate identification can have both practical and dignitary harms,” Erchull added. “Official state recognition of an individual’s gender identity signals acknowledgement and respect for their authentic selves and their privacy. For nonbinary people, having an inaccurate state ID can force an involuntary disclosure of the sex assigned to them at birth. Furthermore, especially since the federal government will soon allow people to obtain X markers on passports and other documents without medical certification, it makes no sense to maintain unnecessary barriers for New Hampshire residents seeking consistency across their ID documents.”
“I’m happy this is happening in my life,” Rho added, “But I’m really happy it’s helping other nonbinary young people to be respected Americans, because it’s our birth right to be free.”
Individuals seeking to update their gender marker on their state ID or driver’s license can complete the application form online and make an appointment to complete the process in person for a fee of $3.
Anyone needing more information or assistance with the process of updating name and gender on any identification documents can visit GLAD’s ID Project at www.GLAD.org/ID