The Idaho state government has dropped its requirement that people undergoing gender reassignment produce proof that they have been surgically altered in order to change the gender their driver’s licenses. According to Reuters, the change comes after the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho put pressure on the state to bring its laws more in line with those in the rest of the country.
“From our standpoint, surgical reassignment is not necessary to operate a motor vehicle on the highway,” Monica Hopkins of the Idaho ACLU said.
The rights group filed a complaint with the state transportation agency against a 2011 ruling by the Idaho state legislature requiring a court order or sworn statement from a physician before licenses can be modified. The ACLU was acting upon the department’s decision to revoke one transgender woman’s license and to deny another applicant’s license request on the basis that neither had undergone surgery.
The state was not within its rights, said the group, to violate citizens’ privacy by demanding access to their medical records and by requiring surgery as a prerequisite for establishing gender identity.
National Center for Transgender Equality spokesperson Vincent Villano told Reuters that only a small number of transgender people undergo surgery, and that the operations are often difficult to obtain and expensive where they are available at all. Some transgender people, explained, may be unable to have surgery for health reasons.
“Regardless, decisions like that should be between a medical provider and an individual,” Villano said. “It becomes an issue for us when we have states trying to legislate what kinds of procedures people should get in order to count as a person.”
According to NCTE, the only three states that still require proof of surgery to modify a driver’s license are Wyoming, South Dakota and Georgia.
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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