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Will Oregon's Gender X Driver's Licenses Start a Trend?

Oregon's Driver and Motor Vehicles Division on June 15, 2017, in Salem, Ore. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky)

Douglas Lorenz, media director of the Intersex and Genderqueer Recognition Project, told PBS News Hour in May that if the Oregon Transportation Committee approved the proposal to let people chose a third gender option, Gender X, on their driver’s license, it would have a “ripple effect” across the nation.

Now, it’s happened in Oregon, and California could be next unless the California Family Council and SaveCalifornia.com can slow a seemingly unstoppable train to a skidding halt, with the latter warning it opens the door to flagrant identity theft.

“And if one’s sex can be officially ‘changed’ by simply — even repeatedly — filing an $11 form with the state government,” Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, said, “it’s going to be a lot harder to accurately identify ‘non-binary’ accused criminals in open court. Proper verification always involves a third party, yet SB 179 magically transforms a subjective, unsubstantiated claim into ‘conclusive proof’ in the eyes of the law.”

But as of July 3, anyone who applies for an Oregon driver’s license will be able to check that third box, Gender X, if they don’t think of themselves as being a man or a woman. The Oregon Transportation Commission made that change relatively quietly June 15.

“We must proactively break down the barriers of institutional bias,” said Gov. Kate Brown.

One year ago, Jamie Shupe became the first person in the nation to change his gender to non-binary. He plans to be at the front of the line to apply for a new Oregon driver’s license.

“I’ve trembled with the fear of failure and cried tears until I had no more tears to cry, because of the magnitude of what’s been at stake — and now won,” Shupe told NBC News.

The Oregon Transportation Commission held two public hearings during a public comment period from April 1 through May 12.

Opposition to the idea that Oregon should provide the option of choosing Gender X on their driver’s license included, “The proposal for Oregon to offer a non-binary driver’s license is pure insanity. It is political correctness gone haywire, a cockamamie idea proposed by folks who put virtue signaling ahead of common sense,” to “No! No! No! On so many levels!!! Ridiculous!”

A police officer from Eugene warned that allowing people to go with Gender X would “hamper identification of traffic violators or those with warrants, as there are numerous gender neutral names that are only identifiable when knowing the sex of the individual.”

However, out of the 83 people who offered a comment on the proposal, only 12 spoke against the idea.

Far more told the DMV that Gender X would make them “feel safer, and more likely to be accepted for who and what I really am” – or simply “why not?” – and persuaded Oregon officials to offer the third gender choice.

Oregon, and perhaps soon California, are catching up to the rest of the world.

Australians and New Zealanders are allowed to choose the X gender option on their passports. India offers “male,” “female, or “eunuch” passport classification choices.

Oregon Transportation Commissioner Sean O’Hollaren, who is also the VP of Government and Public Affairs for Nike, told the Oregonian the Oregon Transportation Commission didn’t have any choice.

“I hope those who will use X as an identifier will feel an element of comfort moving forward,” O’Hollaren said. “It’s something we’re not only doing because legally our hand is forced. It’s something we should do because it’s the right thing to do.”

California isn’t far behind. But approval of a third gender option on a California driver’s license or a state ID will require legislative approval and the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown (D).

The California Assembly will now consider SB 179, which would allow the third gender option, after the Senate approved it May 31.

Sen. Toni Atkins (D), who sponsored SB 179, said the Senate had taken a “brave stand for Californians who have a hard enough time as it is.”

“SB 179 will make what should be a simple task much easier for our transgender and non-binary neighbors,” Atkins added.

The California Family Council has done everything it can to stop this train the CFC is convinced will wreck society.

“‘Male and female, He created them,’ as the Scriptures say. But to be male or female is not simply a religious belief, it is a description of the human race that has been integrated in to the very definitions of the words,” California Family Council lobbyist Greg Burt said as he testified against SB 179 in April.

Beyond the biblical implications, Thomasson said the idea of letting people choose their own gender for a state ID or a driver’s license would create a hardship for police and the courts, while it would be great news for the crooks.

“Picture the arrest of a biological male whose driver’s license says ‘female’ but he still looks male, or a biological woman whose license says ‘male’ but she still appears female. Or someone whose driver’s license says ‘non-binary,’ but they dress as a man one day and as a woman the other,” Thomasson said. “How many cases will be tossed because criminals use SB 179 to claim they’re not technically the person who was charged?”

Burt said it would be a much better idea, if transsexual people are having problems with gender identification on state documents, to erase the selection of gender from a California driver’s license or birth certificate.

“If you allow someone who is physically male to list themselves on a government document as a female, or vice a versa,” Burt added, “then the government will be legalizing a lie.”