Categories: Guest Editorials

Unintended Consequences of a Driver License Bill

I am saddened by the introduction of a bill by Herriman Rep. Carl Wimmer. HB225, Driver License Amendments, will have very unfortunate consequences for Utah’s transgender population.

Imagine if your child, your brother or sister, your parent, or your very best friend were transgender and were being affected by this bill. What would you do? I am asking each of you to read and act. I am personally asking for your help in getting this bill either withdrawn by the author or killed before it has a chance to get to the House Floor.

This bill addresses when a person is changing their sex designation on their driver’s license or ID card because they are transgender and are transitioning to their target gender. The proposed change to the law will require that a transgender person complete sex reassignment surgery prior to changing the sex designation on their driver license.

There are problems with this requirement along with consequences (unintended I am sure) for the majority of transgender citizens of this great state:

  1. The sex designation on a driver license provides visual identification information that, along with the person’s height, weight, eye and hair color and date of birth, help make a positive identification that the ID belongs to the person being identified. Therefore it would seem to be more important that the sex designation more closely resemble the person’s gender expression (how they present themselves in terms of gender) than to match the configuration of their genitals (which are not normally inspected when making a match of the ID to the person).
  2. A crucial and required step on the road of gender transition is something called the Real Life Test in which the transgender person is required to live fully as their target gender in every aspect of their life for a minimum of one year prior to being approved for sex reassignment surgery. This bill, if passed, will make this period particularly difficult for the transgender person as every time they have to show their ID, the person examining their ID will know something is “awry.” This will significantly add to the trauma he or she experiences on a daily basis. Some of the unintended consequences of this may be an increase in suicide rates and an increased tendency to rush their way through the Real Life Test and move forward with the surgery possibly before they are ready.
  3. Most transmen (female-to-male transpersons) do not have sex reassignment surgery, usually due to the steep cost, inherent complications, and higher rate of patient dissatisfaction with female-to-male sex reassignment surgery.
  4. For many transwomen, SRS is financially out of reach or cannot be completed due to health and other reasons. Many others choose not to have the surgery as they do not feel it is a necessary part of their transition (yes many are happy just to live their lives in peace in their target gender).
  5. Surgery costs tens of thousands of dollars. Most transgender people live in poverty due to employment, insurance, and housing discrimination. It is therefore very difficult for transgender people to find employment in order to save enough money for surgery. Many transgender people also lose support from their family and faith community. This bill will force many transgender people to live for the remainder of their lives being “outted” as transgender every time they show their drivers license.

This bill, if passed, will cause a great amount of additional trauma in the lives of transgender people while they are passing through arguably the most difficult transition a human being can ever be asked to go through.

For all of the above reasons I ask – NO – I plead with my fellow Utahns, beloved family, and my dear friends to work with me to keep this bill from passing.

Please contact your State Legislators and let your voice be heard. All the resources and help you need to help can be found at Equality Utah’s website (http://equalityutah.org).

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Staff

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