Victory for Transgender Drivers in Pennsylvania

Until recently, transgender drivers in Pennsylvania faced a tough plight. The Department of Transportation only allowed transgender people to mark their appropriate gender on official documents if they could prove that they had completed sex-reassignment surgery. Meaning, transgender people who had not had sex-reassignment surgery were forced to have their birth sex listed on their license, regardless of how they were presenting.

Aside from the obvious invasive nature of asking transgender people if they had sex-reassignment surgery before allowing them to choose the appropriate gender for their license, the policy could have created problems for transgender people. What happens when you’re pulled over for speeding and the police officer notices the gender marked on your license is in complete contrast to how you look?

Sex-reassignment surgery aside, transgender people should be treated with dignity — their license should reflect the gender they present as. And now, a new policy will allow them to mark their actual gender. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has moved to allow transgender individuals to mark themselves based on their gender, if it can be verified by a licensed medical or psychological caregiver that they live full-time in their new gender.

Are these new rules still too invasive? Perhaps. (After all, cisgender people aren’t required to provide verification from a doctor or psychologist that their gender is accurate.) But considering that many transgender people already see a medical professional to get hormone therapy, the requirements are at least slightly easier to meet than requiring sex-reassignment surgery.

According to Transportation Department spokesman Craig Yetter, 26 other states and Washington, D.C. already have a similar policy in place. The change will likely make driving — and getting an appropriately marked license — much easier for transgender people in Pennsylvania.

Photo credit: Florin Draghici