Gender-neutral option coming to Hawaii IDs

Local News

For generations — an entire segment of the community was mocked — bullied — and outcast.

Hawaii is now the latest state moving toward making official identification cards more inclusive.

The State of Hawaii will join slightly more than a dozen other states — in providing a gender neutral option on both driver licenses — and state ID cards. The Hawaii law takes effect next summer.

Robin Wurtzel, chief counsel of the Hawaii State Civil Rights Commission says, “We believe that it will really aid in nondiscrimination laws. It’s consistent with the laws that the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission enforces, which allows for individuals to self-identify one’s gender identity. So it furthers that.”

Jen Jenkins, alongside Khara Jabola-Carolus, executive director of the Commission on the Status of Women, worked with Representative Nadine Nakamura to prepare and introduce the bill that is now law.

We asked Jenkins why the gender-neutral option is so important — to so many people.

“I remember when I was in high school and growing up and there’s just, if you don’t hear or see yourself represented, it really can impact your life, especially as a teenager. But also for adults who just want to go and get a drivers license now they’ll see their identity recognized and that there isn’t just this binary of male and female, there are other genders outside of that — and like in terms of mental health and social acceptability, it makes a huge, huge impact.”

People obtaining or renewing driver licenses or state i-ds will be able to check M, for male, F, for female, or X — the gender neutral option.

Wurtzel says, “It also gives people the option to identify as they self-identify.”

The State Department of Transportation is in charge of implementing the new law, with the counties — and Deputy Director Ed Sniffen says work is already underway.

“The great thing is, the City & County of Honolulu’s Dept. of Information Technology jumped on it immediately, so they’ve already moved forward, on resetting the data they collect, resetting how they do it and what’s necessary for this change, in driver’s license.”

Sniffen says the new Hawaii IDs will be compliant with the new Gold Star, so-called “REAL IDs” required by the federal government by October first.

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