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US Driver’s Licenses

A US driver’s license is a state-issued document. Therefore, you can go to any DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles; see the link for what it’s called in your state) in the state you live in. The people at some DMVs may be nicer and more helpful (and less Transphobic) than others; ask other folks in your area, if you can, where they went and what their experiences were.

NCTE’s website now features a map that lets you view the driver’s license policies for each state. Just hover your mouse over your state and read the information. The map also lets you zoom in to view smaller states and the District of Columbia. A big thanks goes out to NCTE Intern Kennita Ballard, who contacted each state to gather the information about their policies. Since these policies change frequently, her research will be continually updated by NCTE staff.

Requirements

The requirements for changing the name and/or sex designation on your driver’s license or state ID vary by state. See http://dmv.org/ to find information for your state. The information may be available online, or you may have to call; if you have to call, depending on what your local DMV is like, it may be faster – and somewhat more reliable – to go there in person and just pick up a copy of the form to take home and read. You will definitely need to bring a certified copy – not a photocopy – of your court-ordered name change when you go to get your new license. If you are changing your sex, you may be required to bring a letter from your surgeon stating that you’ve had irreversible surgery to correct your anatomy to that of male/female. However it should be noted that according to Federal law there is no legal requirement to have had surgery to change the gender marker on your license.

The relevant legislation is reprinted below:

ยง 4507.13. Contents and characteristics of license; lamination.

(A) The registrar of motor vehicles shall issue a driver’s license to every person licensed as an operator of motor vehicles other than commercial motor vehicles. No person licensed as a commercial motor vehicle driver under Chapter 4506. of the Revised Code need procure a driver’s license, but no person shall drive any commercial motor vehicle unless licensed as a commercial motor vehicle driver.

Every driver’s license shall display on it the distinguishing number assigned to the licensee and shall display the licensee’s name and date of birth; the licensee’s residence address and county of residence; a color photograph of the licensee; a brief description of the licensee for the purpose of identification; a facsimile of the signature of the licensee as it appears on the application for the license; a notation, in a manner prescribed by the registrar, indicating any condition described in division (D)(3) of section 4507.08 of the Revised Code to which the licensee is subject; if the licensee has executed a durable power of attorney for health care or a declaration governing the use or continuation, or the withholding or withdrawal, of life-sustaining treatment and has specified that the licensee wishes the license to indicate that the licensee has executed either type of instrument, any symbol chosen by the registrar to indicate that the licensee has executed either type of instrument; and any additional information that the registrar requires by rule. No license shall display the licensee’s social security number unless the licensee specifically requests that the licensee’s social security number be displayed on the license. If federal law requires the licensee’s social security number to be displayed on the license, the social security number shall be displayed on the license notwithstanding this section.

The ORC doesn’t actually require a gender marker at all. It only requires “a brief description of the licensee for the purpose of identification.” Gender would make the identification process easier, but, if someone is full time, and presenting as a particular gender that was not their birth gender, a more apt description would indeed be that the person is a man/woman in line with presentation. Therefore, by LAW, the gender should match the presentation.

Fee

There is, of course, a fee for getting a new license or state ID, which varies by state but shouldn’t vary by what you’re changing. The fee is for the act of printing you a new license/ID, so whether you’re changing your name, sex, address, etc., it’s all the same.