The Denver Post, which broke the news on Nov. 8, reports that Colorado joins four other states and Washington D.C. in allowing the marker “X” to be used for nonbinary or gender-neutral identifying individuals. Unfortunately, Colorado’s rule is a bit stricter than Oregon’s, which was the first to adopt the change. Those seeking a gender-neutral identifier here will have to submit a signature from a medical or mental health provider, whereas Oregon allows its citizens to self-identify.
However, unlike many outdated rules regarding other forms of identification, specifically for transgender people hoping to change the gender on their birth certificates and other documents, no proof of surgery or medical treatment is necessary.
The department, though reportedly having discussed a potential gender-neutral marker on Colorado drivers' licenses since 2013, decided to initiate the change after the September ruling in Colorado district court that found Fort Collins’ Dana Zzyym, an intersex activist, was within their rights to request a gender-neutral marker on their passport.
Right now, the drivers' license change stands as an “emergency rule,” which, according to The Denver Post, means it will only be adopted for 120 days starting Nov. 30, but can become permanent after a public comment period.
Nonbinary people, those who don’t identify as one gender or another, can face tremendous roadblocks in the validation of their identities. Not only do grammar police wait in bushes for someone to dare to use the singular “they” (which actually does have grammatical and colloquial history beyond nonbinary identities, thank you), but finding a job or applying for housing, plus any number of day-to-day necessities, become infinitely easier with identification that matches one’s appearance or, at the very least, one’s other forms of identification. This rule brings nonbinary citizens of Colorado one step closer to equality.
One Colorado, the state's largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, released a statement by its executive director Daniel Ramos. It says, in part: "Having a driver’s license that accurately reflects who you are is something many of us take for granted. Now with this change in policy, non-binary Coloradans will have the same freedom and opportunity to have this vital identification that truly reflects who they are."
And, now that the Colorado Senate has flipped democratic, the Birth Certificate Modernization Act, which has previously failed to pass, might have another chance to go through, along with some other oft-rejected bills we've had our eyes on over the years. Meaning transgender and, potentially, nonbinary individuals could have easier access to changing those documents.
In August, the National Center for Transgender Equality graded states on their driver's license policies, only giving Oregon and Washington D.C. an A-plus. Colorado came in at B-minus. At the time, Colorado activists knew we could do better than that. Now, we've proven that we're at least on the right track.