New Yorkers can now mark their gender as “X” on their driver’s license, learner’s license or ID card just in time for Pride Month, Governor Kathy Hochul announced Friday.
The change, which takes effect Friday, is part of the state’s Gender Recognition Act, which was passed last year. The GRA expands protections for trans, gender-nonconforming, and non-binary New Yorkers by making it easier for people to change their names, gender designations, and birth certificates to more accurately represent their gender identity. Additional protections come into effect on June 24, exactly one year from the time the government at the time. Andrew Cuomo signed the GRA.
New York now joins 21 other states in allowing Americans to mark “X” on their ID cards. The option is available at DMVs statewide for new applicants and New Yorkers with existing IDs, who can now change their gender from “M” to “F” to “X.” It will be available online in July.
“Every person, regardless of their gender identity or expression, deserves to have an identity document that reflects who they are,” Governor Hochul said in a statement.
“For a trans person to have a document that shows the government recognizes who they are is really important,” Charlie Arrowood, a lawyer and co-leader of the coalition who worked on the legislation, told Gothamist. “It also means the government is taking steps to ensure its systems are ready to handle this so that people can use the same services and access the same things as everyone else.”
Until last year, similar versions of the bill were introduced in the state legislature – dating back to 2017 – but never made it out of committee.
Previously, changing one’s name or gender identity on a state document was an arduous process.
Mena, a Long Island resident who hid her last name, was one of the first to get an ID showing “X” under her gender. For Mena, it was an emotional moment.
“It really affirms me as someone who has never really felt comfortable identifying within the gender binary,” they said. “I didn’t really realize how much joy I would feel until I was there right now with my partner who also got ‘X’ […] when i got to this point to tick the boxes, i just cried because it was the first time i didn’t have to choose between two things that felt like a lie.
Proponents of the law also point out that for trans and non-binary people, having an ID card that matches their gender is also a matter of safety.
“Even though an ‘X’ somehow indicates you’re trans, it can be just as dangerous if you have ‘male’ or ‘female’ on it and aren’t read as male or female,” Arrowood said. . “So it’s just a way for people to represent themselves more accurately.”