Testimony by Patch
In May 2017, state officials held public hearings on the topic of a DMV proposal that would introduce a third gender option, “X,” for licenses and identification cards. According to local news sources, Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles officials say they have no opposition to this change. The proposal is expected to be approved by the Oregon Transportation Commission this month.
The Oregon Department of Transportation has released the following information on the DMV proposal:
“ORS 807.110 states that a driver license will contain a brief description of the person for purposes of identification. In accordance with national standards, Oregon’s description has contained an indicator of the person’s sex, “M” for male or “F” for female. Within the past year, an Oregon circuit court issued an order stating that a particular individual’s sex is nonbinary. By policy, DMV has accepted court orders as proof of sex-change to change the sex designation of a person on a driver license, driver permit, identification card and DMV record. However, DMV was unable to issue a card or capture in records an indicator that would signify nonbinary, as the computer system has no indicator for a third sex designation.
“Therefore, DMV started this rulemaking in conjunction with updating systems so that an “X” in the field for sex will indicate that the sex is not specified. DMV proposes to adopt OAR 735-062-0013 to explain what information is captured as a descriptor in DMV records, which of those descriptors appear on the front of the card, how that information is provided to DMV, and the process to change such information.”
Patch, a Portland local, shared the following testimony at the second of two public hearings in May:
“Firstly, I want to thank you all for being here today. I understand that being here today is a part of your jobs, but you ultimately still have the choice of whether or not you show up, you do the work, you help us as a community move forward towards better things.
“I also understand that it can be difficult to be the first at something, just as you—if you move forward with this change—will be the first to grant a freedom to Americans that they have never had before in the history of our country. How do I know that it can be difficult? Because I am Patch; I am the first person, in the 231 year history since this country declared its independence, to be legally recognized as Agender. While I will admit that my steps to make this legal change for myself were just that—for myself—being in the public eye was never my intent. But I also understand its importance, and by you being here today I hope that it means you also understand the importance of visibility. It is this very thing which I wish to speak to you about today: visibility.
“The addition of an ‘X’ marker to signify ‘unspecified’ is not full representation; the option to opt out, with no option to opt in—is still discriminatory.”
“As it stands, DMVs across the nation force those who do not fit into binary genders—and even some who do—to either falsify information on government paperwork (which is a crime), or not have access to state issued driver’s licenses, permits, or identification cards. And let’s be honest, not having a state issued ID doesn’t merely make life more difficult—it can literally deny a person access to employment and state benefits. In other words: the current standard practice is either entrapment or denial of commerce, because of gender discrimination.
“So we’re here today—you are here today—to change the history of this country by allowing more than the standard two binary options on state issued ID cards; you are here today to change the lives of people who do not have representation under the current system. While to some, this change may not seem very big—I assure you that it is; while this change may not save the world, it will without a doubt save the worlds of those who need it.
“Before I continue, I want to be absolutely clear here: I support OAR 735-062-0013. I also want to be clear that this change is not a stopping point; this change is not a signal that we are done—this is a signal that we must continue to strive for freedoms for those of us who do not have full representation. This is a very important point that must not be lost on anyone: the addition of an “X” marker to signify “unspecified” is not full representation; the option to opt out, with no option to opt in—is still discriminatory.
“As I said previously: I am here to speak to you about visibility, but to be more specific I am here to beseech you, to understand that it behooves you to not only allow all people to opt out of gender identification on state issued ID cards—it behooves you to allow all people to opt into gender identification on state issued ID cards; it behooves you to be the first people in the history of America, to go forward with this rule change—and continue forward in adding more gender identity markers on state issued ID cards.
“Having said that, I want to address a concern that is commonly raised in regards to adding gender identification options which have previously never been afforded to Americans. The argument in question is: other state, federal, and international departments and services, along with private businesses, may not currently be equipped to handle additional gender identification markers. To this concern, my response is intentionally simple: it is not your job to do other people’s jobs. That is to say, you currently sit in a position of privilege where you are afforded the ability to afford other people freedoms—and it behooves you to not allow others to stop you from doing so.
“By taking this step of implementing OAR 735-062-0013, and the next steps in allowing for full representation of American citizens, human beings, you allow us—those who are afforded representation by these changes—to move forward and address the other facets of our system which do not currently allow us full representation. To put that as simply as possible: your job is to afford American citizens full representation on state issued ID cards—we will take care of the rest.
“I want to sincerely thank you for your time and attention, as I understand how valuable they are, and—I hope that you understand how valuable the people you are able to help are, as well.”
Patch is a videogame writer and ludonarrative designer living in Portland, OR. Follow @PatchScribbles on Twitter.