MONTPELIER — Vermonters will be able to identify a third gender on their driver’s license starting July 1.

The Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles announced Wednesday that those applying for or renewing a license will be able to choose from male, female or other as their gender. Those that choose other will see “X” as their identifier.

DMV Commissioner Wanda Minoli said the change comes as part of an ongoing process to modify the state’s driver’s license system.

“It’s appropriate for Vermont at this time to make the changes,” Minoli said.

She said other states and Washington D.C. have made similar moves: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, Utah and Washington have non-binary gender markers on their licenses.

“We see it as increased safety and inclusion of all Vermonters,” Minoli said.

She said it can be uncomfortable for those that don’t identify as male or female to have to pick one or the other for their license.

Gustavo Mercado Muñiz is the transgender program manager at the Pride Center of Vermont, a community center for the state’s LGBTQ community. Muñiz identifies as they or them, not he or she.

Muñiz said as a non-binary person who works with non-binary people every day, “it’s a wonderful change” that makes them feel less marginalized.

“(Picking M or F) is one of those things that you do for so long that it becomes sort of second nature,” Muñiz said. “For my whole life I’ve only had one of the two options.”

Muñiz said having to indicate their sex, not gender, on something like a driver’s license or job application erases part of themselves in order to be recognized by a system. It forces non-binary people to explain their gender identity in spaces they may not feel safe, they said.

“A lot of community members who identify outside of the binary are sort of feeling seen in a way that they haven’t been up to today, at least in Vermont,” Muñiz said.

While they celebrate the change in driver’s licenses and the community is excited about it, Muñiz said there’s still work to be done. They said while the state has laws in place against discrimination, those laws need to be enforced.

“And sort of find a better way to make sure that when folks are being discriminated against in a workplace because of their gender identity that it’s respected in the same way as discrimination for any other criteria,” Muñiz said.

Muñiz said health care is another area that needs improvement. They’ve heard of cases where health care providers mis-gender people even after being told the person’s actual gender.

eric.blaisdell @timesargus.com

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