Arkansas Court Decision Removes Gender ‘X’ On State IDs

The Arkansas Supreme Court has reinstated a controversial rule eliminating the ‘X’ gender marker from state-issued driver’s licenses and IDs. This move impacts residents who identify as transgender, intersex, or nonbinary, compelling them to select either ‘male’ or ‘female’ on their identification documents.

The Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) had initially introduced the ‘X’ option in 2010. However, they rescinded it in March, stating it conflicted with state law and lacked proper legislative approval. A lower court had blocked this rescission, but the Supreme Court’s recent order has overturned that decision, providing no detailed explanation.

Republican Attorney General Tim Griffin applauded the ruling, emphasizing the need for the DFA to adhere to state law. On the other hand, the ACLU, representing several affected individuals, has argued that removing the ‘X’ marker undermines the identity of nonbinary and intersex people, creating potential legal and social complications.

Holly Dickson from the ACLU of Arkansas condemned the decision, highlighting the potential for confusion and discrimination against those who do not fit traditional gender categories. The ACLU’s lawsuit had temporarily halted the rule’s implementation to prevent harm to these individuals.

DFA Secretary Jim Hudson welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision and confirmed the reinstatement of the procedures. He noted that all IDs currently featuring the ‘X’ designation would remain valid until they expire. Of Arkansas’ 2.6 million active licenses, only 387 include the ‘X’ marker.

The new rule also complicates the process for transgender individuals to change their listed sex. Previously, an amended birth certificate sufficed; now, a court order is required. This change reflects a broader trend in Republican-led states towards defining gender in binary terms, which critics say erases the identities of transgender and nonbinary people.

Arkansas is moving towards making this rule permanent, signaling a significant policy shift in gender identification on official state documents.