Alaska to Allow Easier Driver License Gender Change


The governor of Alaska, Mead Treadwell, this week filed a new regulation to allow trans citizens to correct the gender marker on their driver’s licences without first having to go through gender change surgery.

The new regulation will take effect on August 11 and follows a legal challenge filed with the Alaska Superior Court made by the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Alaska who said that the gender surgery requirement was an unnecessary infringement on individual rights to privacy.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

As reported at the time, the ACLU filed a challenge on behalf of a trans woman known as K.L. who was initially allowed to change her gender markers on her driver’s license, but then had that permission revoked whereby she was told she must now submit proof of having gender change surgery before the request could be granted. This is out of step with other amendment procedures, and K.L. had been able to change other important documents such as her United States passport, bank records and her medical certificate that she needs to operate as a pilot–yet still she was denied a driver’s license without the proof of surgery that she doesn’t need.

Given that treatment for gender dysphoria does not always require gender change surgery, and the extremely high cost genital change surgery entails, K.L. and the ACLU said that this threshold for a gender marker change was overly intrusive and unrealistic, pointing out that the State Department no longer requires trans people to have surgery before amending gender markers on passports. They also noted that other states have similarly dropped the surgery requirement for amending driver’s licenses.

K.L. has said that she is “humbled” and “grateful” for the new regulation, adding, “It is my prayer that this victory will make a difference in the lives of transgender people.”

“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,” John Knight, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project is quoted as saying. “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.”


Related Reading:
ACLU Sues Alaska Over Trans Woman’s Driver’s License
Ill. Issuing New Birth Certificates to Trans Litigants
Trans Woman Settles DMV Privacy Suit

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to U.S. Army Alaska.


Angela Burrow
Angela Burrow4 years ago

This is wonderful news! Many people don't realise that not all trans folk want or can have gender reassignment surgery so this regulation will help all.

Mary L.
Mary L.4 years ago

Gosh, I hope they take this one nation wide! The regulation is the equivalent of making others drop their drawers to prove their gender, it needs to end.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia4 years ago

Awesome. I am glad that there are some progressive leaders in this country.

James Campbell
James Campbell4 years ago

John M. “You are what you were born with,NOT,what you wish to have...”

When are you going to put some effort into actually contributing something of substance to Care2 discussions instead of these boring one line comments? In your attempts to sound as if you are actually thinking, you dismiss the whole spectrum of human existence by the type of rhetoric that one hears from ill-informed 15 year olds.

Of course, as a mere doctor who works with gender dysphoric young people I must bow to your superior knowledge of the immutable link between anatomy and personal psychology. Some of my patients were born with varying degrees of intersex features. They may present with XY chromosomes, but have female type genitalia, others, who are XX have virilised genitalia. Who are YOU to declare that these fine young people have to cope with what they were born with and any hopes they may have of leading (what to them is a normal life) is just a wish? Gender dysphoria is not a ‘lifestyle’ it is a recognised medical condition whereby the brain develops along one pathway and the body another. Individuals with these conditions need care, understanding and compassion. What they don’t need are trite comments from those who have never even stood in their shoes, let alone walked in them.

Allan Yorkowitz
.4 years ago

Big leap for Alaska -Palin must be grinding her teeth somewhere.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons4 years ago

discrimination against transgender is just as bad as discriminating against other races.

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons4 years ago

when you are a fetus your hormones decide what sex you will be. With all the hormone descriptors in everything now we are all changing.

donald baumgartner

GOOD news!!

donald baumgartner

GOOD news!!

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L.4 years ago

Christopher F if I could give you 10 stars I would. Thank you. Thanks Steve for a great article.