As part of its newly instituted REAL ID system, Minnesota will now permit drivers to apply for licenses that mark them as male, female, or nonbinary.
Among the first to apply for a nonbinary license in Minnesota is J. Zappa, a volunteer firefighter in Medicine Lake, reports Twin Cities TV station KMSP. Although assigned male at birth, Zappa has identified as both a woman and man throughout their life, until realizing they were nonbinary.
"I guess you could say I'm a shade of gray in a world of black and white," Zappa told KMSP.
After having multiple licenses that identified them as exclusively M or F, Zappa is now waiting for a driver's license that fully encompasses their identity.
"It was just frustrating because most recently I had an F on it and I would show it to someone, but they would say, ‘You are dressed like a man’ or ‘You have a deep voice’ or ‘We don't think this is accurate.’ They would say ‘This isn't your license," Zappa recalled.
"Gender identification is a self-descriptor like eye color, height, and weight. Licenses will have either an M, F or X noted in the gender section," the Department of Public Safety's Driver and Vehicle Services Division wrote in a statement. "It was a business decision to offer a third option to better serve all Minnesotans."
One Minnesotan feels much better served.
"I feel good. I know a few other people have accomplished this in a few other states. It started on the West Coast a few years ago, and more and more people are recognizing that nonbinary people exist and we ought to be legally recognized," Zappa explained.
The District of Columbia, Maine, and Oregon already offer the gender-neutral marker "X" on driver's licenses and state identification cards. Oregon was the first to do so, in June of 2017. That year in California, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the Gender Recognition Act, which established the state as the first to legally recognize a third, gender-nonbinary option on all legal documents. It will take effect in 2019.
Last week, Colorado became the first state to not assign gender on a birth certificate when it retroactively amended an intersex individual's documents to reflect their biological sex.
Minnesota's move, Zappa added, “is one more step in recognizing trans people to be who they are and that we’re legitimate and that we’re out here, so it’s good.”