New Jersey is now joining at least 19 states and Washington, DC, in allowing an “X” gender identifier on driver’s licenses and other identification.
The additional gender option was officially made available to comply with part of legislation passed in 2018 to allow residents to change their gender identification more easily, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) announced Monday.
The new gender “X” identifier will indicate that a person’s gender is unspecified, a big step for those who identify as nonbinary, or someone who doesn’t identify as male or female. The department noted that the “X” marker can also be used by residents who don’t want their gender specified on their license or other identification.
The change was originally planned for late 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic, the commission said.
“Diversity and inclusion are core values for New Jersey, and for all of us at the MVC,” agency Chief Administrator Sue Fulton said in a statement. “We know this new option will be deeply impactful for many residents, as access to resources and the ability to live and work freely so often hinges on having documentation that correctly reflects your identity.”
The move comes as a wave of states have moved in recent years to allow for more gender identifiers on state documentation. New Jersey will be one of at least 20 states to allow “X” gender markers on driver’s licenses, according to the Movement Advancement Project, which tracks LGBTQ policies across the United States.
The push for an “X” option has been part of a long effort by the transgender community to provide for easier changes to gender markers on documents. Correct gender identification on official documents helps protect the safety of transgender people and allows them better access to housing, employment or other public benefits, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.
The leader of the LGBTQ organization Garden State Equality thanked state officials for “taking another step to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ New Jerseyans.”
“This option will allow New Jerseyans, particularly nonbinary and intersex people, to enjoy a right many of us take for granted – having ID that accurately reflects who we are,” Christian Fuscarino said in a statement.