In a move hailed by LGBT rights groups, Oregon became the first state in the US on Thursday to allow residents to mark their gender as "not specified" on applications for driver's licenses, learner's permits and identity cards.
Under the new rule approved by the Oregon Transportation Commission, Oregonians who select the new option will have an X appear instead of M or F on those cards. The rule, which takes effect on July 3, is a first for the U.S., David House, spokesman for Oregon's Driver and Motor Vehicles Division, or DMV, told The Associated Press.
"It's fitting that this is before us during Pride Week in Oregon and Pride Month around the country," said Commissioner Sean O'Hollaren. "It's something that we should do because it's the right thing to do."
The DMV said the new rule, which the commission passed unanimously, came about after a Multnomah County judge in June 2016 allowed Jamie Shupe, a Portland resident, to legally change to "non-binary" gender.
"There's a little more truth and justice in the world today," said Hayley Gorenberg, deputy legal director of Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization that advocates for the civil rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people.
Gorenberg said in a statement that when appearances don't appear to match gender markers on ID cards, people "endure insults and psychological trauma that could largely be averted if they had an option to use a gender marker that does not contradict who they are."
Lambda Legal said that nationally, people have been harassed and even assaulted after presenting IDs to police, hospital workers, employers, airport staff, bank tellers and others that don't match their gender identity or expression.