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Californians Will Be Able To Change Gender On Their IDs Easier — Including New ‘X’ Nonbinary Option

Micah Sittig/Flickr

People wait at counters at the DMV in Fullerton, Calif.

Micah Sittig/Flickr

This is part of our series on new California laws taking effect in 2019.

For the last few years, Santa Clara resident Alon Altman has covered the “M” on the gender section of their drivers’ license with a small sticker, to avoid confusion.

Altman was assigned male at birth, but they don’t identify that way.

“When people look at my ID and then instead of saying ‘ma’am’ or using my name, they’ll call me ‘sir,’” Altman said. “They’re both wrong. But people assume that what the ID says is the truth.”

Under a California law taking effect next year, people who are nonbinary — meaning they don’t identify as male or female — will be able to choose that option on their drivers’ license without the previously required physician sign-off. Transgender people will also be able to use that law to more easily switch between male and female gender markers.

A sample driver's license with the letter X nonbinary gender category.CA DMV / Courtesy


DMV spokesperson Artemio Armenta says the department is working to get word about the gender marker changes out to law enforcement and other agencies. The gender change process will also be simplified for other types of identification, including real ID cards.

The DMV estimates 55,000 customers will use the law in the first six months.

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