Florida bans trans persons from changing their gender on their driver’s license

In a significant policy shift, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) has rescinded a previous policy that allowed transgender individuals to update the gender marker on their driver’s licenses.

This change, outlined in a memo sent to county tax collectors, states that gender on licenses is considered synonymous with biological sex, which is defined by innate and immutable biological and genetic characteristics. Consequently, the memo argues that allowing changes to reflect an individual’s gender identity undermines the purpose of an identification document and could interfere with the state’s ability to enforce its laws.

The memo, issued by the department’s Deputy Executive Director Robert Kynoch, stresses that a driver’s license is an identification document critical for establishing a person’s identity. It also warns that misrepresenting one’s gender, understood as biological sex, on a driver’s license could constitute fraud, leading to potential criminal or civil penalties, including the revocation of the driver’s license.

The FLHSMV’s decision was not prompted by any new law but rather appears to be an administrative action.

This policy reversal has sparked significant concern among transgender individuals and their advocates. Not only does it prevent people from updating their identification documents to reflect their gender identity, but it also potentially exposes them to legal risks if they attempt to do so.

Accurate identification is crucial for transgender and nonbinary individuals, as discrepancies can lead to increased risks of violence, discrimination, and harassment in everyday situations, such as when presenting an ID at various locations or while traveling.

The policy change has been met with criticism from various quarters. Advocates for transgender rights argue that the change was made without public input or following the proper rulemaking process.

Moreover, critics, including Florida Democrats, have condemned the policy as a move by the state administration to enforce unpopular policies without legislative scrutiny. They view it as part of a broader campaign to target the transgender community and restrict their rights.

The decision comes amid a broader context of legislative and regulatory actions in Republican-controlled states targeting transgender people and the LGBTQ+ community more generally.

In Florida, this includes previous actions like the prohibition of Medicaid coverage for gender dysphoria treatments and the ban on medical treatment for gender dysphoria in children, both implemented through executive agencies under Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration.

This change in policy regarding driver’s licenses is part of a larger trend of legislative and regulatory efforts in various states that significantly impact the transgender community and their legal recognition and rights​