The Idaho Transportation Department has amended its requirements for transgender people seeking to change the gender marker on state identification and driver’s licenses, removing the condition that applicants must show proof that they have had complete sex reassignment surgery.
The policy was changed following a complaint from the ACLU; two transgender Idahoans who had updated their drivers’ licenses to reflect their gender identity saw their licenses canceled when the Transportation Department realized they hadn’t received any proof of surgery.
The ACLU’s view was that the department had no reason to demand intimate medical history details that are unrelated to one’s ability to drive, and the department conceded.
Reflecting the reality that many transgender people cannot afford surgery, nor is it universally desired, the majority of states have no such requirement for transgender individuals seeking to have their identification changed to reflect their true gender identity.
In California, a July 2011 amendment in the Health and Safety Code dictates that “Whenever a person has undergone clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition, the person may file a petition with the superior court in any county seeking a judgment recognizing the change of gender.”
What defines “clinically appropriate” for each individual is a private matter, between them and their doctor.
The U.S. State Department also does not call for transgender individuals to have completed sex reassignment surgery, although it was a requirement previously, to correct their passports; a June 2010 update to the U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual states that “Sexual reassignment surgery is not a prerequisite for passport issuance and such documentation must not be requested.”
ACLU Staff Attorney Amanda Goad, who was part of the team who submitted the complaint, told 429Magazine, “We appreciate the Idaho Department of Transportation’s decision to stop requiring major and potentially unnecessary surgery for transgender drivers to obtain accurate identification. With this policy update, Idaho joins the majority of U.S. states that don’t require proof of surgery to update the gender marker on a driver’s license or state ID card.”