Binary gender designations (such as male or female) on identification documents fail to represent the diversity of human experience. In Hawaii, that may change soon.

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An effort headed by Lambda Law Student Association has brought Hawaii one step closer to adding an “X” gender-neutral marker to driver’s licenses. Students united with community organizers, elected officials, as well as the LGBTQ community and its allies to bring us to this point.

Students led the way by participating in a Lobby Day at the Hawaii Legislature, submitting testimony, and participating in a panel discussion on how an “X” (gender-neutral) marker will affect their lives.

The personal stories communicated by youth were especially notable because of Hawaii’s large high school trans-identified population, which a 2018 Department of Health study estimates is 1,260 students.

House Bill 1165 is about more than adding a gender-neutral designation on our driver’s licenses. Adding an “X” gender marker acknowledges and embraces our transgender and gender-nonconforming community members.

Inaccurate documents with only M (male) or F (female), heighten discrimination and impose barriers upon people who identify as transgender or gender nonconforming. Transgender and gender nonconforming people often face invasive questioning about their gender, and driver’s licenses can be used as a weapon to demean and invalidate them.

Hawaii driver’s license.

Blaze Lovell/CivilBeat

The “X” marker adds a layer of protection for one’s gender identity, which is a private matter. A gender-neutral “X” marker will ensure privacy and provide recognition for those who identify outside the gender binary.

We hope that Gov. David Ige will recognize our efforts by signing HB 1165 into law and are grateful for the support of the Hawaii Department of Transportation, the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, as well as many community organizations such as GLSEN Hawaii, Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction, the ACLU of Hawaii, and the LGBT Hawaii Caucus.

We also thank the collaborative leadership of Sens. Lorraine Inouye and Karl Rhoads and Reps. Chris Lee and Henry Aquino. We especially thank Rep. Nadine Nakamura for introducing the house version and Sen Rhoads for introducing the senate version of the measures or, as we like to call them, “No License to Discriminate.”

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