PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles announced on Monday that it is going to offer the option of a gender-neutral designation on driver licenses and identification cards.
Maine becomes at least the third state to adopt such a policy, after Oregon and California, along with the District of Columbia, the group EqualityMaine said. The move comes as a result of a complaint filed with the Maine Human Rights Commission by EqualityMaine's board president, Zack Paakkonen, on behalf of client Ian-Meredythe Dehne Lindsey.
Dehne Lindsey, who identifies as non-binary, filed the complaint about a year ago after being denied a non-binary option at a Portland BMV office, said Matt Moonen, executive director of EqualityMaine.
The decision to make such an option available was reached on May 10 through a mediation process, said Kristen Muszynski, a spokeswoman for the Maine Department of the Secretary of State.
"We know gender is a spectrum and some people don't identify as male or female. It's important that driver's licenses and other forms of IDs recognize people who are non-binary," Paakkonen said in a statement. "Removing barriers for people is critical to helping all of us live healthy, productive lives."
The process will involve filling out a form called a "gender designation form," the agency said. The BMV said it will issue a sticker for the license or ID card that says: "Gender has been changed to X — Non-binary." Right now the faces of the cards can only say "M'' for male or "F'' for female.
A system upgrade will allow the BMV to phase out the sticker by July 2019. The "X'' will then be on the card, the agency said.
Before then, customers can submit the form for the sticker at any BMV branch office, and those who already have a valid license will receive the sticker and instructions through the mail. The sticker does not carry any kind of fee.
Dehne Lindsey, the complainant, who lives in South Portland, said in a statement that the state's decision to offer a non-binary option is a boost for equality.
"Words cannot adequately express the relief I feel, and how happy I am, that my ID will now reflect such an integral part of my identity and who I am," Dehne Lindsey said.
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