New Regulation Allows Transgender Persons To Correct Gender On Alaska Driver's License; Eliminates Requirement To Undergo Surgery
July 27, 2012
“We appreciate the work of the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Lt. Governor’s office in crafting a regulation that recognizes the important and legitimate needs of transgender Alaskans,” said Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU of Alaska. “All Alaskans must be able to obtain a driver’s license that accurately reflects their gender and avoids disclosure of sensitive personal information unrelated to their ability to safely drive a motor vehicle. The government should never needlessly intrude into mandating specific medical procedures.”
The ACLU filed its challenge in April 2012 on behalf of a transgender woman, K.L., whose United States passport and work documents all identify her as female. After initially securing a change to the gender on her driver’s license, she was told that her new license would be revoked unless she submitted proof of having surgery.
In March 2012, the court ordered the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles to produce an appropriate regulation for transgender people within six months, warning that the agency must consider the constitutional implications of any future rules.
“I am humbled and grateful for this decision,” said K.L. “It is my prayer that this victory will make a difference in the lives of transgender people.”
Many transgender persons are treated for a condition called gender dysphoria. Although the American Psychiatric Association agrees that surgery is medically necessary treatment for some, it is not required for everyone with the condition. Treatment for gender dysphoria varies from individual to individual, and many can be effectively treated without surgery.
Additionally, such surgery is beyond the means of many people and is potentially dangerous for some individuals. The State Department no longer requires transgender people to have surgery before it will correct the gender marker on passports, and a growing number of states have stopped requiring surgery for changing the gender marker on a driver’s license.
“The previous requirement had nothing to do with accepted medical standards and demonstrated a callous lack of understanding of what it means to be transgender,” said John Knight, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “The government should not be in the business of dictating anyone’s medical care, especially when it comes to requiring surgery that may not be available, desired, or medically necessary.”
In July 2012, Lt. Governor Treadwell filed a regulation removing the surgery requirement. The new policy will take effect in August 2012.
Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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