Residents of the Pine Tree State will soon be able to obtain non-binary driver’s licenses and IDs.
Maine has announced that next July, its Bureau of Motor Vehicles will start issuing IDs with a gender designation of “X.” The agency will immediately start issuing stickers noting non-binary identity.
Maine is the third state to offer non-binary driver licenses. Oregon and Washington D.C. already issue them, and California will make them available in January. New Jersey is similarly poised to make non-binary birth certificates available after its legislature passed landmark trans rights bills that cut through the red tape for updating documents.
The new designation in Maine is the result of a complaint brought before the Maine Human Rights Commission by South Portland resident Ian-Meredythe Dehne Lindsey. EqualityMaine’s board president and attorney Zack Paakkonen filed on behalf of Lindsey last year.
“I feels really good to have your state government validate your existence and your identity,” Lindsey told INTO.
For years, Lindsey has faced discrimination in public accommodations and in travel. They have faced scrutiny picking up prescriptions because their gender confused pharmacists, and a convenience store once refused them service, they said.
Most of Lindsey’s relatives live outside of Maine, so they have to travel frequently. Airport security is notoriously problematic for transgender and non-binary people because security checkpoints are so gendered.
”It got to the point where I had been groped a couple of times by TSA,” said Lindsey. “I didn’t want to go to the airport. I would have panic attacks, and it was just exhausting. I couldn’t do it anymore.”
EqualityMaine Executive Director Matt Moonen also noted that Lindsey felt like they were lying when they applied for state-issued gendered IDs.
“It was agonizing actually to have to make a choice between male and female on these forms of ID because neither one was the truth,” said Moonen.
In June of 2017, Lindsey applied for a non-binary driver’s license at the Presumpscot Street BMV branch office in Portland. The application was rejected because the state didn’t have a system to process it, according to EqualityMaine. So, Lindsey filed a complaint.
But instead of fighting the complaint, the Maine BMV agreed to mediation with the Commission. The non-binary IDs are the result.
Quinn Gormley, executive director, MaineTransNet praised the move as major step toward full legal recognition for trans people in the state.
“Affirming and accurate ID’s help to break down significant barriers to housing, employment, and education faced by many transgender people,” said Gormley in a statement. “We’re celebrating this progress, and the visibility it brings to beloved non-binary members of our community. ”
According to the LGBTQ think tank the Williams Institute, there are an estimated 5,350 transgender people living in Maine.
Mainers can apply for the non-binary stickers now at no additional cost for an existing ID. New IDs with the gender marker “X” will roll out by next July.