ACLU Advocacy: DMV to Fix Gender Marker Change System

On May 18, the ACLU of Nevada learned that the Nevada DMV will make changes that allow transgender people to obtain gender marker changes with a standardized form completed by their doctor. This change rightly puts the determination of whether someone’s gender has changed in the hands of medical professionals rather than individual DMV employees.

This victory follows significant advocacy efforts by the ACLU of Nevada, which had heard disturbing reports in recent months that individual DMV employees were asking inappropriate personal questions of transgender people who had submitted requests for gender marker changes, and even, in violation of HIPAA, contacting applicants’ doctors. After a particularly troubling complaint that a DMV employee told Amber LaMay, a local transgender woman, that "God would not approve" of her, we brought the incident to the attention of the agency’s leaders. A broader letter about the issues was also sent on behalf of numerous community groups, from the Stonewall Democrats and the Log Cabin Republicans to the Abundant Peace Church, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada.

This month, the ACLU of Nevada and Jane Heenan from Equality Nevada met with the DMV and a representative from the Nevada Attorney General’s office to negotiate possible changes.  That meeting was the catalyst for the DMV's decision to create a standarized form that ensures equal treatment of all persons requesting a gender marker change.

The DMV has posted the new form on the agency's website, and has indicated it is committed to instituting a fair policy that allows people whose gender has changed to get drivers’ licenses reflecting their identity.  Having the correct gender marker is a critical need for transgender people, as it enables them to avoid harassment and discrimination in a number of public settings.

"I am extremely moved and excited by the verbal actions thus far for change in the DMV policy regarding gender marker changes for Trans people," said Amber LaMay.  I'm looking forward to finally having my gender marker changed with this new DMV form...[and] to having my gender identity represented on all of my legal documentation now exactly how I am as a female in gender."

Staff members of the ACLU were also encouraged by the decision.  “The Nevada DMV should be applauded for being responsive to the concerns we brought to their attention and developing a humane policy.  We are glad that we could work with them to make this important change," said ACLU-NV Interim Southern Program Director Maggie McLetchie.  "We are also very grateful to Jane Heenan and Equality Nevada for insight into how the driver’s license issue affected the lives of transgender people in our community, and to everyone in the community who shared their stories and gave their support to this important cause."