Community members weigh in on new 3rd gender option for driver’s licenses

Minnesota is introducing a new gender marker for driver’s licenses outside of the male and female choices. Starting this week, residents can choose an ‘X’ instead of an ‘M’ or ‘F’ for their gender.

It’s estimated that there are more than 20,000 Minnesotans identify as transgender, meaning they identify as a gender different than their sex assigned at birth. Supporters say this non-binary option, meaning not male or female, could help them more closely show others how they identify.

Alesha Schandelmeier is excited to see the state add the third-gender option, especially because it means a lot to others in the LGBT community.

“Minnesota has been much more progressive [for] LGBTQ rights and it’s just another step forward towards full equality,” said Schandelmeier, executive director of The Center: 7 Rivers LGBTQ Connection.

She said when Washington, D.C., made the change in June of 2017, it resonated with others at the center.

“People definitely expressed interest in having that be a viable option,” Schandelmeier said.

Using the new marker could mean that gender nonconforming or transgender people feel safer because their documents would more closely match their sense of self and outward appearance.

“I think that being able to pick a neutral gender marker is going to be much more comfortable for some people and validate their identity as well in the eyes of others,” Schandelmeier said.

While some celebrate the change, others are left wondering what it will mean for them and their business.

“The way the auto insurance companies would have to calculate their rates, they take things into account like your age and your driving history,” said Tom Fuchsel, an agent with La Crescent Insurance.

Gender is also a factor. He said there is a way insurance agencies could create quotes for drivers with the new marker.

“Normally, the male would have a higher rate at the younger ages and the female would have a lower rate,” Fuchsel said.

He said insurance companies may just average the two, but so far he hasn’t heard from anyone about the issue.

“I guess I’ll just wait and see what comes down the pike from the insurance companies,” Fuchsel said.

According to the Driver and Vehicle Services Division, the new marker does meet federal standards. It would still be valid under ‘REAL ID,’ which will be needed to fly in 2020 without another means of identification.

Other states including Maine, Oregon and Washington, D.C., already have this option. California will have this marker choice available in January on driver’s licenses.

Oregon, California and Washington allow people to put this third gender designation on their birth certificate. New Jersey will also provide this choice to residents in 2019.