A new policy by the secretary of state’s office will make it easier for gender-expansive people to correct their gender markers on Illinois identity documents.
The office introduced a new form Tuesday allowing for transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming people to correct their gender on driver’s licenses and state ID cards through self-designation, much like is already done for height, weight, hair color and eye color.
“We are excited by the modernized policy for gender-marker corrections in Illinois driver’s licenses and state ID cards. Individuals themselves know best what gender marker is appropriate for them,” said Myles Brady Davis, communications director and press secretary for Equality Illinois, which partnered with the National Center for Transgender Equality and the secretary of state’s office on the policy.
A medical report, psychiatric report, physician’s statement or other documentation indicating a gender transition was previously required for people to correct their gender markers.
According to Equality Illinois, this was an unnecessary barrier for transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming people, who may not have insurance, access to supportive health care or money to pay for visits to obtain a signature.
According to Illinois data from a 2015 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 33% of respondents who saw a health care provider in the last year reported having at least one negative experience relating to being transgender; 24% said they did not see a doctor when they needed to in fear of being mistreated; and 29% did not see a doctor when needed because they could not afford it.
“Removing barriers to obtaining an accurate updated ID ensures that transgender Illinoisans can go about their daily lives free from discrimination and harassment,” said Arli Christian, state policy director at the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Illinois follows nine other states and the District of Columbia in allowing this policy, which is fully compliant with the federal REAL ID Act. Other states include Arkansas, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.
“My philosophy of life has been to encourage inclusion and combat discrimination,” Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White said. “I’m pleased to work with Equality Illinois and NCTE on this policy change — one that will truly help individuals in deeply personal and important ways.”
A recent law, signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Aug. 23, also approved gender-neutral markers — usually an “X” instead of “M” or “F” — on driver’s licenses or ID cards, but the secretary of state’s office said the option might not be available until its contract with card vendor IDEMIA ends in 2024.
Nonbinary activists applauded the change but urged the secretary of state’s office to offer the nonbinary marker sooner.
A spokesperson for IDEMIA said in an emailed statement that the company will implement the nonbinary marker as soon as the secretary of state’s office’s operational system is updated.
Dave Druker, a spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office, said Wednesday that the office was looking into how quickly the change can be made.