Transgender residents of Michigan can now more easily switch the sex-indicator on their driver’s license, according to a change announced by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Monday.
Individuals wanting to correct their license no longer need a birth certificate, passport or court order. Instead, they can change the sex-indicator on the license by filling out a form, having their photo taken at a branch office and paying the $9 correction fee for a driver’s license. The fee is $10 for a state identification card.
“One of my goals is to reduce barriers for marginalized communities to participate fully in our society. The transgender community has faced both marginalization and violence without proper identification,” Benson said in a statement. “This change returns to a policy that was in place before the issue was politicized, and that was utilized by both a Republican and Democrat secretary of state.”
Nearly 81 percent of transgender individuals in Michigan do not have proper identification, according to a statement from the Secretary of State’s office.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan praised the move in a statement released Monday.
“A driver’s license or ID matching a person’s true identity is not a luxury, it’s a necessity,” said Jay Kaplan, the LGBT Project staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan, in a statement. “It is also a necessity that we have a law in Michigan that explicitly protects people from being fired for who they are.”
Kaplan served as a consultant for the policy change.
Benson was joined at the press conference announcing the change by several transgender rights activists, including Jeynce Poindexter, a transgender specialist and victims advocate for Equality Michigan and vice president of Trans Sistas of Color Project, and Lilianna Angel Reyes, youth drop-in director at the Ruth Ellis Center and executive director of Trans Sistas of Color Project.
Poindexter said that having state identification that matches a presented gender identity can help fight discrimination and reduce the chances for misunderstandings when working law enforcement or health care providers.
Reyes added that it can also help the general well-being of transgender individuals.
“For us, having a state identification that reflects how we see ourselves reduces trauma and stress when having to show your ID,” Reyes said. “It validates who we are, especially in a world where people and systems constantly devalue our identity.”
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