3rd gender option proposed for Oregon driver licenses

Public hearing set for 6 p.m. Wednesday in Portland

A sample version of an Oregon driver's license, provided by the Oregon DMV on May 10, 2017
A sample version of an Oregon driver's license, provided by the Oregon DMV on May 10, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon could soon be the first state in the nation to make driver’s licenses include a third gender option.

Currently, people only have 2 choices on their Oregon driver’s licenses — male and female. But a third option — Non-Binary Gender — is a proposal that will have a public hearing Wednesday night in Portland.

Supporters say this option would validate transgender identities and make them safer. An estimated 20,000 Oregonians identify as transgender.

Last year, Portland army veteran Jamie Shupe was able to get a judge to allow them to identify as neither male nor female. Shupe went to the Department of Motor Vehicles for a new driver’s license, but the DMV’s computer system at the time didn’t have the option or change it.

The DMV said they started looking into it and realized they didn’t need a lawmaker to add an option for a non-binary category for gender. So the department spent the last year figuring out how to add it in the computer system and let other agencies like law enforcement, know they were pursuing this option.

“We will use what seems to be becoming an international standard of using an X, which doesn’t mean non-binary,” DMV spokesperson David House said. “It simply means somebody who does not identify as male or female.”

This all comes at a time when Oregon is coming close to a June deadline by the federal government to update Identification cards to fully comply with the Real ID Act. If they don’t, Oregonians won’t be able to use their driver’s licenses at the airport come January.

The Real ID Act only asks for gender, it doesn’t say what the gender needs to be, so the Oregon DMV believes their change wouldn’t affect that.

The DMV will hold a 90-minute public hearing beginning at 6 p.m. at the Multnomah Building.

So far, the DMV said, there has been no opposition to this plan.

KOIN 6 News will have more information later in the day.