Vermont law enforcement board okays third gender on driver’s licenses

Vermont Human Rights Commission Executive Director Karen Richards
Vermont Human Rights Commission Executive Director Karen Richards. Photo courtesy Vermont Public Radio

Vermont’s Law Enforcement Advisory Board unanimously agreed not to oppose adding a third option for those who don’t identify as male or female on the state’s driver’s licenses.

The DMV had asked the board to weigh in on the question before the DMV implements a new computer system that would allow the third option to be added to the licenses. Specifically, the DMV asked the board to consider whether the change would impact police officers stopping people for traffic violations.

The board consists of public safety officials from across Vermont and is tasked with making recommendations to the legislature and governor.

After meeting with members of the transgender community as part of the deliberations, the board agreed to not oppose the DMV moving forward with the third gender option.

“Law enforcement does not see that as an issue for them in the upcoming year,” Paul Gauthier, board chair, told Vermont Public Radio (VPR) for a January 5 interview. “The general opinion around the table was that it wasn’t going to impede the way we conducted our business.”

VPR went on to report that:

Vermont Human Rights Commission Executive Director Karen Richards says if the DMV moves ahead with the change it would broaden the rights of transgender individuals in Vermont, as well as possibly offer more protection if they are pulled over by the police.

And she says in a legal sense it protects those Vermonters who are committing to a gender on an official state document.

“I think it’s a major victory for folks who are transgender,” Richards says. “It acknowledges who they are and that’s an important thing for us to do.”

Oregon became the first state to offer a third gender option on its driver’s license last year, and California and  Washington D.C. have both since made the change.