New MVA Policy Detrimental to Trans Marylanders

Equality Maryland is Maryland’s largest LGBT civil rights organization. They recently sent out this information about the proposed changes to the rules for changing gender on MD driver’s licenses.

The Maryland Vehicle Administration (MVA) is currently considering an update to their policy regarding changing the gender marker on a driver’s license. The new policy would go into effect on January 1, 2010.

The current policy allows for a change to the gender marker, so long as an applicant is able to provide a physician’s or psychologist’s report to confirm that the applicant is in active treatment. The MVA requires annual re-evaluations until the applicant meets requirements for permanent gender change. The primary criterion for a permanent change is for the person to have undergone SRS or sex reassignment surgery.

If you’re a resident of Maryland, you can bug the governor of Maryland to keep this proposal from happening.

Under the new policy, the MVA would require an amended birth certificate. This requires going through the court system. Maryland code states that it will issue a birth certificate reflecting the proper gender only upon receipt of a certified copy of an order from a court indicating that the sex of an individual born has been changed by surgical procedure and whether such individual’s name has been changed. You cannot change the sex on a birth certificate simply by providing proof that you are undergoing medical treatment or procedures for gender reassignment.

The MVA has authority under the Maryland Transportation Code to issue corrected driver’s licenses and to establish the rules and regulations for such issuances; however, there have not been any problems with the current process, nor have there been any changes in state or federal law that would require such a change.

“The current policy is working. It balances the need of the state to provide appropriate protocols with respect for the individual,” said Morgan Meneses-Sheets, the Executive Director of Equality Maryland. “These changes would create additional hoops and legal fees for transgender Marylanders who are looking to update their driver’s license. Having a legal identity document that does not match a person’s gender exposes them to potential risk not just of embarrassment, but of harassment as well.”