— Sam Sweeney (@SweeneyABC) June 27, 2017
This week, Washington DC took a firm stance when it comes to gender inclusivity in America, officially allowing individuals to select a gender-neutral option on their driver's licenses. Instead of identifying as male or female, an individual is free to identify as "X." On Tuesday morning, a person named Nic Sakurai became the first American to be issued this new, gender-neutral license. Sakurai, who uses "they/them" pronouns, explained to CNN why this distinction is so important. "I don't feel that sense of gender as something that is part of my core innate experience," they said. "I'm glad to finally have an ID that actually matches who I am." Hot on DC's heels, the state of Oregon has also announced similar plans to distribute gender-neutral licenses. The state will begin implementation on July 1.
While this development is a major win for gender nonconforming, gender queer, nonbinary, and agender individuals, it also sends a strong message of validation to the transgender community. Being transgender in public situations can sometimes cause trouble and emotional trauma. Airport security has historically been a source of strain for transgender individuals. According to the National Center For Transgender Equality, it shouldn't matter if your presented gender does not match the gender on your ID, and TSA should not even comment on your gender. Unfortunately, that's often not how it always goes down.
Having an "X" gender distinction would allow gender nonconforming and transgender individuals alike to avoid worrying about situations like this. It would give them the freedom to express their gender outside of physical limitations that have to do with presentation or anatomy. With even more states putting similar legislation in the pipeline — California is also attempting to add a third gender option — it's only a matter of time before a better understanding of gender identity becomes a nationwide norm.