The nation's capital is leading the way when it comes to inclusion for non gender-conforming individuals. CNN reports that Washington, D.C. is the very first jurisdiction in America to issue gender-neutral driver's licenses.
Starting today, anyone applying for a D.C. driver's license can opt to choose X as their gender marker instead of the usual male and female options. D.C.'s move towards inclusion follows Oregon's announcement of offering a gender-neutral option on its driver's licenses, as well, though that state's policy won't go into effect until July 1, 2017.
"The new gender-neutral identifier offers gender non-binary District residents a gender designation that affirms who they are," Sheila Alexander-Reid, director of the Mayor's Office of LGBTQ Affairs, told CNN. "The implementation of a gender-neutral identifier is consistent with our D.C. values of inclusion and respect."
CNN adds that having X as an option "reduces the risk of harassment and discrimination" that people who are gender non-conforming often face when their physical appearance doesn't align with the option on their identification cards. The D.C. DMV worked with the National Center for Transgender Equality and Whitman-Walker Health, a Washington-based health care center, to help develop the changes and put them into place.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the new option last week, saying that the decision had been months in the making and a cooperative effort. She noted that having a gender-neutral option is just one way that the District of Columbia can move towards a more inclusive policy when it comes to gender and gender identity.
"The safety and well-being of all Washingtonians is my top priority, and whenever we are presented with an opportunity to improve the lives of residents and better align our policies with D.C. values, I will take it," she told CNN.
Oregon and Washington, D.C., are the first places in the United States to have a gender-neutral option on its identification cards, but other countries have already been issuing them. CNN reports that Canada, India, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand, and Nepal all have a non-binary option available to their citizens.
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