HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — When you head to a PennDOT licensing center, you can expect to give your height, weight, birthday and gender.
“Everyone is assigned a gender at birth, what the doctors perceive as that person’s gender when they’re born, and everyone also has a gender identity, so who we know ourselves to be inside,” said Amanda Arbour, executive director of the LGBT Center of Central Pennsylvania.
But for transgender and non-binary people, those two things don’t always align. It’s one of the reasons PennDOT plans to roll out a gender-neutral option for driver’s licenses.
“I think you should be identified the way that you would like to be perceived as. That’s up to you, what your identity is,” Ryan Edwards said.
Instead of male or female, people will have the option to choose the letter “X.”
“We’ve been talking about it for some time. It also supports the governor’s initiatives for inclusivity,” PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt said.
Waters-Trasatt says they’ve been monitoring national trends and this is something many customers have been asking for.
Right now, people can submit a request to change their gender on your license, but a medical or social service provider has to sign off on the change.
“If a transgender person has a gender marker on their ID that doesn’t align with how they present to the world, then that can automatically outs them and put them at greater risk for harassment, for violence, for mistreatment,” Arbour said.
It’s unclear if a doctor will need to sign off on the gender-neutral option, too.
“We have to work through all the processes for verification as well as what the department and customers will have to do, so that will be determined and we’ll definitely make that clear to our customers before we start making it available,” Waters-Trasatt said.
PennDOT is in the early stages of the process, but Waters-Trasatt says they’re hoping to have something in place in at least a year from now, if not sooner.
“We appreciate the support for our communities and hope to continue moving forward with policies that protect our transgender and non-binary communities,” Arbour said.
Pennsylvania joins 14 other states that already have or are getting a gender-neutral option.