Driving us mad

Florida just made it harder for transgender teens to get a driver’s license

Florida‘s next anti-trans move will make getting a driver’s license in the “Sunshine State” much harder.

As stated in a Friday memo released by Robert Kynoch, deputy executive director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Florida will not allow transgender people to update their license to reflect their gender identity. This update trumps the previous policies that allow trans folks to update their gender marker on their license.

The logic behind it? According to Kynoch, there previous policies “are not supported by statutory authority,” claiming that the department cannot enforce provisions that allow anyone to update their gender on their license.

Kynoch also stated in the memo that gender within the provision “does not refer to a person’s internal sense of his or her gender role or identification, but has historically and commonly been understood as a synonym for ‘sex,’ which is determined by innate and immutable biological and genetic characteristics.”

An individual can receive a new Florida license with their reflective gender marker with particular supporting documentation, such as a U.S. passport, birth certificate, and another state’s driver’s license. However a replacement for a Florida license can only happen if the license in question has been lost or stolen, or if the individual changes their license restrictions, name, or address.

Even though Floridians can update their sex on their birth certificate, they will be unable to so with their license’s gender marker under the new policy. There’s no confirmation on whether trans Floridians with U.S. passports that accurately reflect their gender identity can be used as supporting documents to update their license’s gender marker.

Essentially, trans Florida residents seeking to update their license’s gender marker will encounter a wide array of challenges. For starters, according to Kynoch’s memo, misrepresenting one’s gender on a driver’s license is considered fraud.

Florida carries criminal and civil penalties for this and can lead to either the cancellation, suspension, or revocation of someone’s license. And even though there’s no clarification on if a trans Florida resident commits fraud if they use a license that already has an updated gender marker, the policy update, and its vagueness, is another step in an anti-trans direction for the state.

“Florida is rescinding a process without notice after years and they are adding insult to injury by adding a civil and criminal penalty,” Nathan Bruemmer, a transgender attorney and president of the LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus in Florida said for CNN. “Presenting inaccurate identification all too often becomes a trigger for various forms of abuse and discrimination. There is no question that this decision will fuel the anti-trans hostility that is already on the rise in Florida.”

What was once a rite of passage for many teens becomes another debacle for the transgender community. On top of the equally vague and expansive “Don’t Say Gay” bill, anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment continues to spread within Florida.

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