PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon is leading the nation in recognizing people who don’t identify as strictly male or female with a new option for identification cards.
Non-binary people can select X instead of specifying either male or female at the DMV. Many are calling this a victory for Oregon.
It all started with Jamie Shupe, who started life as a male, then transitioned to be a woman, but later decided that didn’t feel right either.
“Jamie determined that they are non-binary,” attorney Lake Perriguey said. “They are neither male or female, or a mixture, a bi-gender — if you will — of both genders.”
Non-binary could refer to many different ways of identifying, whether it’s a mix of genders, somewhere in between, something other than male or female and more. Non-binary people can encounter issues when the gender marked on their ID doesn’t match what people would expect based on their appearance.
Perriguey represented Shupe and helped lead the charge to make this change in Oregon.
“A little over a year ago, Jamie Shupe, who served honorably in the military, came to see me asking for a gender change,” Perriguey said.
Once that process started, Shupe became the first person in the United States to be legally recognized as a non-binary gender. Now all Oregonians can chose the X for their driver’s license or ID card.
“It’s just about having that option,” Ira McKinzie said. “I don’t want to be forced to put an M or F because that doesn’t really represent who I am as a person.”
McKinzie got a new license with an X, but understands there could still be issues, especially since the federal government has yet to recognize this option. They also worry it might cause confusion because the gender option on their driver’s license doesn’t match what appears on other legal documents.
“I’m assuming that I’ll probably have some kind of issue, but either way it is a peace of mind for me because I don’t have to give them the wrong person,” McKinzie said.
McKinzie is glad things are changing along with more awareness for transgender and non-binary issues.
“Non-binary people are real,” McKinzie said. “We’ve existed for thousands of years. Sociologists, scientific, psychologists, ethnologist of all kinds of backgrounds agree.”
Perriguey said it’s a start and will allow non-binary people to struggle a little less.
“Their government recognizes them, dignifies them with recognition of who they are,” Perriguey said. “And that is good government and that is a great step for our state and the rest of the country for leading this effort.”