By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com April 24 2013 4:11 PM ET
The Idaho Transportation Department announced Tuesday that it has amended its policy regarding changes to driver's licenses to allow transgender people to correct the gender marker on their license without showing proof that they have undergone surgery.
"We're glad that the state has recognized the important and legitimate needs of transgender Idahoans," said Monica Hopkins, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, in a statement Tuesday. "All Idahoans should be able to get a driver's license that correctly reflects who they are without disclosing sensitive personal information completely unrelated to their ability to drive. The state did the right thing in updating its policy."
The revision comes after the ACLU approached the Transportation Department with concerns about two transgender Idahoans who tried to amend their licenses to list their accurate gender identity but whose licenses the department canceled after realizing the residents had not submitted proof of gender-confirming surgery.
"I'm very happy that the agency agreed to change its policy, and grateful that I and other transgender people in Idaho will be able to get and use accurate identification going forward," said Erika Falls, a transgender woman and student at Boise State University, in the ACLU's release.
While gender-affirming surgery is a medical necessity for some transgender people, others do not want surgery, or cannot afford it, as such procedures are generally not covered by insurance. In 2010 the U.S. State Department revised its protocol for changing gender markers on passports, removing a requirement that a citizen provide proof of surgery to change their gender marker.
A lawyer with the ACLU in New York told The Advocate that Idaho's licensure change might bode well for future revisions to Idaho's statutes, which currently prohibit anyone from changing the gender listed on their birth certificate, regardless of current gender identity or presentation.
"This policy change does not directly affect birth certificates," said ACLU attorney Amanda Goad, "but we hope that it will help bring about updating of the separate procedures for amending other documents like birth certificates in Idaho."