“Florida’s New Driver’s License Rule Is Blatant Trans Voter Suppression”


Quietly and behind the scenes last month, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, or FLHSMV, issued a memo indicating that it will no longer honor Floridians’ requests to amend the gender marker on their driver’s licenses. “Permitting an individual to alter his or her license to reflect an internal sense of gender role or identity, which is neither immutable nor objectively verifiable, undermines the purpose of an identification record,” Robert Kynoch, deputy executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, wrote in the memo, reciting rhetoric now often used to justify anti-trans laws. The memo closed with what could be read as a threat: “Misrepresenting one’s gender, understood as sex, on a driver license constitutes fraud [under state law] and subjects an offender to criminal and civil penalties.” Or, said more directly, as in a statement that FLHSMV made to several media outlets after news of the memo hit the press: “You do not get to play identity politics with your driver license.”

This news is alarming for several reasons. Until now, the state had allowed residents to amend the gender marker on their licenses and state identification cards. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, run by a political appointee of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, is attempting to throw out that policy in this memo. The state legislature is also currently considering something similar: House Bill 1639, which Equality Florida, the statewide LGBTQ rights group, calls the Trans Erasure Bill, includes provisions that redefine “sex” and “gender” in the law in such a way that trans Floridians would be required to list the sex they were assigned at birth on their driver’s licenses. “On the one hand, you have this policy that’s saying, You can no longer amend, and on the other hand, you have this policy that’s saying, When you’re applying for documents they have to have your sex assigned at birth,” explained Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel at ACLU Florida. “So you’re creating a situation where there’s an intent to erase trans Floridians from public life.”…

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