Maine Becomes First New England State To Issue Non-Binary Licenses
Well, happy pride month! Mainers who don't identify as either male or female can now obtain non-binary licenses from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, making Maine the first New England state and third in the country to allow non-binary gender designations. If you currently have a license with a designation as either "M" (for male) and "F" (for female), you can fill out a gender designation form with the BMV and receive a sticker that says “Gender has been changed to X – Non-binary.” There is no fee to make the change, although the standard fees apply if you're obtaining a new or duplicate license.
After a system upgrade and newly designed licenses are issued in July 2019, the stickers will be phased out and gender designations will be displayed on the front of the card as "M", "F" or "X".
The change came about as a result of a complaint filed with the Maine Human Rights Commission after Dehne Lindsey was denied the non-binary gender designation because of limitations with the current system. Zak Paakkonen, attorney at Portland Legal and Equality Maine board president, filed the complaint on Lindsey's behalf and represented her in mediation with the BMV.
“It’s exciting to see Maine’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles adopt this change. 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. Removing barriers for people is critical to helping all of us live healthy, productive lives," Paakkonen said in a statement.
Maine Transnet joined Equality Maine, GLAD, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine in celebrating the announcement.
“This change represents the next major step towards full legal recognition of the lives of transgender Mainers. Affirming and accurate IDs help to break down significant barriers to housing, employment, and education faced by many transgender people. We’re celebrating this progress, and the visibility it brings to beloved non-binary members of our community."
-Quinn Gormley, Executive Director of MaineTransNet
“Identity documents play a substantial role in how we all navigate the world. Without an ID that matches who you are, trouble is sure to follow. All people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and this simple change makes that possible for more Mainers today.”
--Mary Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)