Massachusetts state senator proposes gender-neutral driver’s license law

Karen Spilka,Maura Healey
Massachusetts State Senator Karen Spilka (left) and Attorney General Maura Healey at an event where they were honored by the Young Democrats of Massachusetts. Photo courtesy of karenspilka.com

Massachusetts State Senator Karen Spilka is proposing a law that would allow Bay State residents to identify as “male,” “female” or “x” on their driver’s licenses. And Spilka is also researching how a gender-neutral option might be added to birth certificates.

According to a October 27 New England Cable News report, Spilka was initially moved to push for the change by a letter from a 16 year old.

“When you think about it, why should somebody, anybody, have to identify male or female if they don’t identify specifically with one or the other,” Spilka told NECN. “In the long run, it is the person’s identity, the person who has that license that should be able to say what they identify as and that is what should matter.”

“This is a good step in the right direction,” Boston Pride Board President Sylvian Bruni to the NECN reporter, who noted that Washington, D.C. and Oregon took similar steps earlier this year. “Being able to have a document that basically a testament to your identity, is key in a number of legal proceedings and a number of other areas of life,” Bruni said.

The NECN report also added that “not everyone agrees.”

Reflecting an all-too-prevalent misunderstanding of gender identification, Andrew Beckwith with the Massachusetts Family Institute told the reporter that a “[d]river’s license is intended to be a legal document identifying people by the use of objective facts, like height, age, current address. They are not intended to fill someone’s desire for sexual expression. We think identification documents, legal documents, should reflect reality and not someone’s inner sense of self,” Beckwith added.

Meanwhile, here in New England, lawyers from Ropes and Gray are working with GLAD to offer a designed to help transgender people complete legal name changes and update identity documentation including social security cards, U.S. passports, driver’s licenses or state identification cards and birth certificates issued in New England.

To learn more, visit glad.org/ID, call GLAD Answers at 1-800-455-GLAD, or send an email to gladanswers@glad.org. Financial assistance for government filing fees may also be available.