New Gender Designation Law

A new gender designation law is making its way into Maryland this October. House Bill 421 passed both the House and the Senate with a veto-proof majority and was enacted under Article II section 17(c) of the Maryland Constitution on May 25, 2019. The law will take effect on October 1, 2019.

Maryland residents who identify as non-binary will now have the option to designate their gender as X instead of the traditional M or F options through the Motor Vehicle Administration. Persons who identify as non-binary, unspecified, or “other” do not identify exclusively as male or female and often use they/them pronouns. The law allows applicants for licenses, state identification cards, and moped operator’s permits to indicate an “unspecified or other” gender with an X. Maryland joins California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, and the District of Columbia in allowing designation for unspecified gender on licenses and state identification cards. 

To change gender designation on a driver’s license, the Motor Vehicle Administration requires the change to be done in person and requires the applicant to bring either a court order, federal/state-issued identification, or birth certificate showing the requested gender designation. An applicant may also bring an authorized letter obtained from MVA’s Driver Wellness and Safety Division. This new law, however, prohibits the Motor Vehicle Administration from requiring proof of the applicant’s sex or denying an application because the sex selected by the applicant does not match the sex indicated on another document associated with the applicant. 

Following suit, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) recently announced that students will be able to designate X as the gender option on school records. MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith wrote a letter to Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon stating that the school system receives numerous requests from students and parents seeking to indicate their gender as non-binary or unspecified each year. Arlington Public Schools and DC Public Schools are also allowing for a third non-binary gender option on school records. 

While the Motor Vehicle Administration changes will go into effect October 1, 2019, the MCPS policy change will not be fully implemented until the summer of 2020. However, the school system plans to handle requests to change gender designation on school records on a case-by-case basis until then. To note, the new October law does not cover birth certificates issued by the Division of Vital Records, and as of now there is no option to change your gender on your birth certificate to X.

Markham Law Firm has experience representing parties with relation to name changes and motions to seal so that their documentation matches their identities. To learn more about how Markham Law Firm can help you through the name change or record sealing process please call us at (240)-396-4373. Markham Law Firm is located in downtown Bethesda, MD.