On Thursday, Oregon became the first state to offer more than two gender options on driver’s licenses and official state ID cards. The updated Oregon Transportation Commission regulations, which go into effect July 3, will allow applicants to choose “X” as opposed to “M” or “F.”
Last month, 22 people testified in favor of the decision at a public hearing.
“ID cards are something we show at banks, to new bosses, to police, to bartenders,” said gendefluid Oregonian Danno Mannino, “And every time I have to pull it out of my wallet, my heart sinks that my true name and gender are not acknowledged on it yet… The smallest of interactions, as they build and build, weigh heavy on the hearts of our community.”
The rule was inspired by Portland resident Jamie Shupe, an army veteran who became the first American to legally change their gender to non-binary, thanks to a ruling by an Oregon circuit court last year. Following Shupe’s win, at least 12 other people in Oregon and California have changed their gender designation to non-binary or agender.
“I’ve trembled with the fear of failure and cried tears until I had no more tears to cry, because of the magnitude of what’s been at stake—and now won,” Shupe told NBC News. “But in the end, the huge legal and non-binary civil rights battle that I expected to unfold going into this never came to pass; simply because this was always the right thing to do all along.”
In January, New York City issued the first-known intersex birth certificate to Sara Kelley Keenan, but Keenan has been since unable to change the gender on her birth certificate or state ID.
Activists hope an “X” gender designation is on the way in other states, and eventually, for U.S. passports.
Last year, intersex activist and Navy veteran Dana Zzyym sued the federal government for the right to choose a third gender on their passport. The State Department is now reconsidering Zzyym’s request.
Australia and New Zealand already have the option to choose an “X” gender on passports, and in India the options include “male,” “female” and “eunuch.”