Florida’s Shift in Gender Marker Policy for Driver’s Licenses

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Florida’s Shift in Gender Marker Policy for Driver’s Licenses

Memo Reveals End to Gender Marker Changes

In what seems to be a subtle move, Florida has stopped allowing transgender individuals to alter the gender designation on their driver’s licenses, a change that aligns with broader actions to cease recognizing transgender identities legally. A memo, disclosed by independent journalist and legal analyst Alejandra Caraballo on X, and dated January 26, from Robert Kynoch, the Deputy Executive Director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), marks the end of a policy in place since 2018 that facilitated the amendment of gender markers on licenses. Kynoch’s memo indicates a return to defining “gender” strictly in terms of “sex,” based on “innate and immutable biological characteristics.”

Officials and Analysts Respond

The policy shift was first brought to public attention by Caraballo. While there has been no official statement from DHSMV representatives about the memo, Florida Representative Anna Eskamani confirmed its legitimacy, noting that as of January 30, changes to gender information in DHSMV’s systems were being blocked.

Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani criticized the move, viewing it as an instance of state agencies being used to target transgender individuals negatively. Similarly, Nikki Fried, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, condemned the focus on transgender individuals by Florida Republicans, accusing Governor Ron DeSantis of enacting controversial policies surreptitiously.

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Nathan Bruemmer, president of the LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus, emphasized that state agencies should prioritize serving Floridians rather than advancing a divisive agenda.


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Legal Implications and Public Reaction

Kynoch’s memo also hinted at potential legal repercussions for “misrepresenting one’s gender” on official documents. However, Simone Chriss, an attorney with Southern Legal Counsel, reassured that those with currently valid IDs reflecting their gender identity have no immediate cause for worry.

The adjustment in DHSMV’s policy appears to precede several Republican-backed legislative proposals in Florida, aiming to cease the legal acknowledgment of transgender identities by defining “sex” strictly as a binary genetic concept.

The change may also create a legal inconsistency with federal regulations, notably the Real ID Act, which recognizes “gender” based on personal experience rather than biological assignment. This policy shift occurs amidst a broader discussion on identity fraud and theft in Florida, raising questions about the prioritization of legislative focus.

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