Vermont Is One Step Closer To Offering A Third Gender On Driver's Licenses

Jan 5, 2018

The Department of Motor Vehicles is getting a new computer system that would allow it to add a third option for people who do not identify as male or female.

The department asked the Law Enforcement Advisory Board to weigh in on the proposed change, and discuss if it would have an impact on the work police officers do when they stop people for traffic violations.

Law Enforcement Advisory Board Chairman Richard Gauthier says the board met with members of the transgender community last year.

And after hearing from them at those meetings Gauthier says none of the members of the board were opposed to adding a third gender option.

"Law enforcement does not see that as an issue for them in the upcoming year," Gauthier says. "The general opinion around the table was that it wasn't going to impede the way we conducted our business."

The Law Enforcement Advisory Board is a panel made up of public safety officials from across the state.

The board makes recommendations to the Legislature and the Governor on topics that affect law enforcement, and in its 2017 summary report the board said it will remain neutral and defer to DMV on making the change.

"I think it's a major victory for folks who are transgender. It acknowledges who they are and that's an important thing for us to do." - Karen Richards, Director of Vermont Human Rights Commission

Vermont Human Rights Commission Executive Director Karen Richards says if the DMV moves ahead with the change it would broaden the rights of transgender individuals in Vermont, as well as possibly offer more protection if they are pulled over by the police.

And she says in a legal sense it protects those Vermonters who are committing to a gender on an official state document.

"I think it's a major victory for folks who are transgender," Richards says. "It acknowledges who they are and that's an important thing for us to do."

Oregon became the first state to offer a third gender option on its driver's license last year, and California and  Washington D.C. have both since made the change.