Dr. Jillian T. Weiss

Florida DMV Officials Ignore Law, Refuse Trans ID Change

Filed By Dr. Jillian T. Weiss | July 01, 2011 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: drivers license, Florida, transsexual, Victoria Michaels Lavelle

lavelle.jpgSouth Florida Gay News published an article on Tuesday by Victoria Michaels Lavelle, a transsexual woman, whose requested change of sex on her drivers license was refused by Florida officials, despite the fact that she clearly fulfilled the agency's requirements for that change.

"There are written details in the new guidelines, which Florida DMV provided me with a copy of the official license manual for gender change about what information my physician must provide and be sworn to under the penalty and perjury laws of the United States of America," said Lavelle. These details are set out in the photos accompanying this post, below, provided by Ms. Lavelle.

Lavelle is the current reigning Miss Florida F.I. 2011 for the LGBT community. She is a pre-op transsexual (male to female) and I has been living everyday life as a full time female since 1999. She serves as an advocate for the LGBT community and currently works as a premiere hostess at the world famous Boardwalk Bar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Lavelle went to the Florida DMV and learned through a supervisor, Mr. Aaron Lee, at the Pompano DMV Branch, that Florida is now following guidelines that, unlike the previous requirement of sex reassignment surgery, require a statement from a physician

"I was elated that after all these years of my living as a female I can finally have it officially read "female" on my license," said Lavelle.

Ms. Lavelle returned to the Florida DMV to have her gender marker changed and after standing in line for 3 hours, was told that she could not do so, and that only a supervisor could change the gender marker. The supervisor was not at work that day. This information was completely wrong, because any line clerk at DMV is empowered to do so. But she was nonetheless turned away.

She made two more attempts to return to the Florida DMV in the coming weeks and each time she was denied, by managers Jacqui and Anthony.

It wasn't only that she was refused. Each of the four times that she took the trip to DMV, and stood in line, and finally got up to the front window at the Pompano, Florida DMV, the managers were quite rude to her and spoke loudly about her gender change in front of the other patrons. That was embarrassing, because Ms. Lavelle is, in her own words, "completely passable as a female." The managers were outing her personal business to everyone standing in the DMV. The DMV guidelines say that such transactions should be handled "discreetly."

"I thought the entire purpose of the new gender change law was to prevent transgender people from being put in uncomfortable situations like these. In addition to that the Florida License Manual guidelines also states that anyone working for DMV must provide transgender individuals changing their gender marker with extreme discretion and treat us with respect," said Lavelle.

After contacting several equal rights organizations, Ms. Lavelle was finally able to have the gender marker on her Florida License changed to female.

Note: The photos of the new Florida licensing requirements are below. Click to enlarge. The missing word in document 2 is "the"

FloridaDMV1.jpg

FloridaDMV2.jpg


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We experienced similar issues here in Georgia and so we initiated the "Buddy System." DMV clerks are less likely to harass a trans person if there are people with them as witnesses. One of us would carry a camera and make it visible and a lot of times Pastor Paul Turner would also be there, wearing his collar. It hasn't failed us yet.

Christine | July 1, 2011 3:11 PM

Monica, that is a great strategy. It's a shame we have to go to that length, but I can envision a day when we're well past this. In my lifetime (48 years ago) it took the entire National Guard standing at the ready for the first black students to be admitted to the University of Alabama. I was only five at the time. Social progress can be slow, but it *does* happen as long as we stay committed and keep our eyes on t he prize.

P.S. I hope to meet you at SCC this year — I'm teaching a writing seminar on Saturday.

. . . at the Pompano, Florida DMV, the managers were quite rude to her and spoke loudly about her gender change in front of the other patrons. That was embarrassing, because Ms. Lavelle is, in her own words, "completely passable as a female." The managers were outing her personal business to everyone standing in the DMV.

That reminds me of my trip to the White Plains New York DMV when I went in person to see about getting my license upgraded to an "Enhanced Drier's License" - I had already had the gender marker change, but when I exhibited my birth certificate, the clerk's demeanor changed and she started loudly referring to me as "sir" and when speaking to the supervisor referred to me as "this gentleman" - There was one thing missing, so I couldn't get the EDL, but I was mortified, shocked and angry that the clerk took this kind of tack. Luckily, the regular renewal went without a hitch.

We experienced similar issues here in Georgia and so we initiated the "Buddy System." DMV clerks are less likely to harass a trans person if there are people with them as witnesses. One of us would carry a camera and make it visible and a lot of times Pastor Paul Turner would also be there, wearing his collar. It hasn't failed us yet.

I did not need Monica or Pastor Paul when I went to the DMV in Georgia after my SRS. The clerk told me she would not change my gender marker despite a court order. I told her should would. Her manager agreed after I suggested he bring it up with the judge. Marker changed!

Nerissa, I know you and you're a tough, no nonsense woman. I wouldn't have even worried about you if I knew you were going. I see I'm right. Way to go. If someone else in GA needed backup, you'd be the perfect person for that.

No problems doing this in Philadelphia. They recently passed a new law that allows gender marker changes and at the Arch street office, they practice what they preach. Now, if SEPTA would stop with the gender stickers on the TRANSpass.

As far as I know you can't change your gender marker in Iowa without a birth certificate change and for an MTF Transsexual that means SRS first. I think it is something worth lobbying for but I'm not sure the political climate is right for it here currently.Also even if Iowa changed it laws on birth certificate change it still wouldn't help those born out of State in States that either don't allow for change or do but require SRS.

VictoriaMichaels | July 1, 2011 4:23 PM

Jillian...
Thank you for printing the story about my sour experience with the Florida DMV. Its nice to see all the postive feedback and other people's experience with their local DMV ! Keep up the great work

My name is Michael Keeffe and I am the executive director of Transgender FORGE. FORGE is the organization that drafted this policy change with the Florida DMV. Anyone who has a problem with getting your marker changed here in Florida, please contact me directly and we will address the issue. It is also important that we be informed so we can monitor the policy change and any issues.

michael@forgefl.org
727-330-4894