Pre-operative transgender individuals can change their driver's license gender marker in Maryland without genital surgery. It was a pleasant discovery for me shortly after relocating to the east coast in 2008.
The department of motor vehicles requires supporting letters from a physician administering HRT and a gender therapist affirming the successful 24/7 transition of the applicant. The Maryland Vehicle Administration (MVA) also requires a personal letter explaining why a gender marker change would be of benefit to the transitioner. A medical advisory board reviews the letters and in reasonably short order grants a gender-revised license.
It only cost me time and postage. I received approval in about a week.
But Maryland's trans-friendly driver's license gender revision policy may hit a dead end soon, courtesy of bureaucrats at the MVA.
If a proposed update to existing gender revision policy is enacted as planned on January 1st, transgender Marylanders will have to petition for a court order verifying permanent surgical change of their birth sex. Living a successful, full-time, pre-operative gender transition will no longer suffice for receiving a gender marker revision to a Maryland driver's license.
In a nation woefully short on anti-discrimination laws for gender variant people, but long on harsh judgment, the ability to display a driver's license matching one's gender expression and identity is tantamount to public safety. Truer words are seldom spoken. Especially when it comes to public accommodations, spun as the "bathroom issue" by the ubiquitous, ultra-conservative opposition.
Could an ugly fundamentalist head be rearing itself again, this time at the MVA? I'm just thinking...
The proposed change to MVA's gender marker regulations exposes transitioning individuals to risk of ridicule, psychological abuse and the very real potential of physical violence. It's an unwarranted step backward in civil rights and human dignity.
Only 12% of all transgender individuals undergo genital surgery. Does that mean 88% shouldn't be entitled to a gender-congruent driver's license if they can state their case?
Some transitioners can't afford surgery while others don't need it to confirm their gender identity. Pre-op or non-op, both of these transgender segments express a congruent, authentic gender identity every day as their post-op brothers & sisters. A court order won't change the diverse, gender-variant facts of trans-life. However, the ability to change a gender marker with the MVA does and should continue to change transgender lives for the better.
What's the cost of a proposed court order anyway? As an example, in Anne Arundel County, it's $105 to file for a legal name change. That's doable--for some, dubious at best for others. Could filing a letter in court recognizing official "sex change" surgery cost much more if the MVA's rule changes?
Better start counting your rainy day coins.
The price tag of "sex change"-- SRS/GRS--is a cool $18-24K, making the proposed court-order an unconscionable 180 TIMES more expensive than your run of the mill court order. It's an eye-popping stat little known among myopic, cis-bureaucrats, but cost-prohibitively show-stopping for many in the trans-community.
Most health insurance companies exclude SRS/GRS from coverage. The MVA would be placing a grossly unfair economic demand on the majority of an already largely impoverished community.
On balance, Maryland's coffers gain hundreds, perhaps several thousand dollars from the few transgender citizens willing and able to oblige the newly proposed regulation. That's hardly worth the cost of implementation to replace the proven, time-tested guideline as it currently stands. Yet is could cost transgender individuals a lifetime of savings.
Or perhaps there's a more fundamental agenda at play behind the proposed rule change; a covert, special interest which often emerges from the shadows in the struggle for equality.
Shortly it will all be moot. January 1st looms around the corner.
The proposed MVA driver's license change is an unnecessary road block to the trans-community. It needs to be dismantled immediately, well ahead of the New Year. Long before any unsuspecting transgender citizens of Maryland have to face it head on, crashing into this life-threatening hazard of a rule change.