Bill would make it harder to change gender on Indiana IDs

Indiana residents would face more hurdles changing their gender driver's licenses or other credentials issued by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles under changes approved by a House panel.

Posted: Mar 21, 2019 9:18 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana residents would face more hurdles changing their gender driver's licenses or other credentials issued by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles under changes approved by a House panel.

The Republican-led House Roads and Transportation Committee voted 10-3 Wednesday along party lines to revise an unrelated bill to allow only the submission of a certified, amended birth certificate to the BMV to complete a gender identity change on BMV-issued credentials.

The revised bill will be eligible for additional changes in the Republican-controlled House next week.

The committee's move came a week after the BMV announced that it had begun issuing driver's licenses and identification cards with a third gender option. That change allowed residents to choose the third option "X'' instead of the traditional options of "M'' or "F'' gender identifiers.

The BMV currently processes gender changes after receiving either a certified, amended birth certificate, or a state form completed by a licensed physician confirming that an individual has undergone treatment to permanently change their gender.

A physician can also submit a signed and dated statement on office letterhead confirming a gender change, as long as the wording used in the statement substantially matches the gender change language required by the Indiana Administrative Code.

Rep. Holli Sullivan, R-Evansville, the panel's chairwoman, offered the changes to unrelated legislation that would direct the BMV to develop a mobile credential.

She said the BMV should not be in the business of interpreting doctor's notes. Requiring Hoosiers who change their gender to acquire an amended birth certificate will eliminate any processing questions at the BMV, Sullivan said.

"It does not say that you cannot change your gender. They still have the process to do that. It does take the BMV out of the picture of making any medical sort of decisions," she said.

Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, was not persuaded by Sullivan's argument.

"Reading a doctor's note isn't making a medical decision. We do that with handicapped placards," Candelaria Reardon said. "I don't know why it would be so difficult to do it with this, and continue to use the process that we have now."

Katie Blair, the ACLU of Indiana's director of advocacy and public policy, said there's no question that Sullivan's proposal is "a spiteful reaction" to the BMV policy making a non-binary gender option available to Hoosiers.

She said that if Sullivan's proposal becomes law, transgender Hoosiers will have to go through "the burdensome and costly legal process of changing their birth certificate in order to update their ID.

The State Department of Health generally requires a court order, signed and dated by a judge, to change the gender identification on an Indiana birth certificate.

Blair said the bill's language "will leave some Indiana residents who were born in a state that does not allow birth certificate updates, completely unable to get accurate identification."

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