Hawaii Establishes Third Non-Binary Gender Classification for State IDs

Governor Ige of Hawaii signed HB1165 into law, establishing a non-binary gender option on applications for state-issued IDs and driver’s licenses. The law, which will go into effect on July 1, 2020, allows applicants to select “F,” “M,” or “X” as their gender on government ID applications and does not require applicants to provide documentation affirming their desired gender designation.

A non-binary gender designation option on IDs is necessary because binary gender classifications exclude a number of groups, including but not limited to, transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming individuals. By not requiring applicants to produce documentation confirming their gender identity, HB1165 also eliminates many of the bureaucratic obstacles transgender individuals face when applying for IDs, since many struggle to obtain federal documentation reflecting their true gender identity. HB1165 is particularly relevant in the state of Hawaii, as it has the largest percentage of transgender individuals in the country, according to the Williams Institute of UCLA Law School.

In an Instagram post celebrating the bill’s passage, Khara Jabola-Carolus, the executive director of the Hawai’i State Commission on the Status of Women, commented that “this wasn’t just about simple recognition of transgender folks by the mainstream. It was about decolonization of the status of gender minorities and women, and taking a step to honor the inclusive society of Native Hawaiians.”

Governor Ige signed two other pieces of landmark legislation on Wednesday. One outlaws the use of the “panic defense,” commonly used in violence cases, in which the defendant attempts to explain their behavior by arguing that they experienced emotional distress after discovering a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The other law makes conversion therapy for minors illegal.

Hawaii is the latest state to pass legislation introducing a non-binary gender option for IDs; however, it is not the only state to have done so. Oregon, New Jersey, New Mexico, Maine, Colorado, as well as 12 other jurisdictions, have passed similar legislation as well.


Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 10/3/16, Hawaii State Legislation 6/26/19, Instagram 6/27/19, Huffington Post 6/27/19, The Hill 6/27/19

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