Just about halfway through Pride Month, the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles has announced it will acknowledge “non-binary” as a gender option.
Effective in July 2019, “M,” “F” and “X” will all be options on licenses or IDs, the BMV said in a statement.
In the interim, those wishing to identify as non-binary will receive an “X” sticker, free of charge, to place on their identification.
Not being able to easily designate the gender with which they identify can be especially difficult for non-binary people. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), “the rates of anxiety and depression in sexual minority individuals appear to be more than double those of their heterosexual counterparts.”
The issue came about when Ian-Meredythe Dehne Lindsey, who filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission when they were unable to obtain a license with a non-binary gender option.
For Dehne Lindsey, it is about much more than a sticker.
“Having the sticker validates my existence,” they said, according to the Portland Press Herald. “It was extremely important for me and for non-binary individuals in general. It shows that we’re human beings and worthy of being recognized.”
Dehne Lindsey recalled heightened harassment due to their gender identity, the Press Herald reported:
Not having a truthful gender designation on a driver’s license or ID can lead to unnecessary confusion, such as when seeking emergency health care, buying alcohol or interacting with police, Dehne Lindsey said. And it opens the door to much worse, including harassment, discrimination and abuse, Dehne Lindsey said.
A rape survivor who flies regularly to visit family members, Dehne Lindsey described being groped on several occasions while being patted down by airport security experiences that brought back the horror of Dehne Lindsey’s assault and triggered debilitating panic attacks. Dehne Lindsey decided to take action after the state refused the request for a license with a non-binary gender designation.
“We know gender is a spectrum and some people don’t identify as male or female,” Zack Paakkonen, an attorney who filed the complaint on Dehne Lindsey’s behalf, said, according to the Press Herald. “It’s important that driver’s licenses and other forms of ID recognize people who are non-binary.”