Illinois' Modernized Policy for Gender Marker Corrections on Driver’s Licenses and State ID Cards Praised

The modernized policy means medical documentation of a gender transition is no longer required in order to correct the gender marker on a driver’s license or state ID card

Under a new policy implemented by the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office, trans, intersex, and gender non-conforming (TIGNC) people in Illinois who want to correct their gender on driver’s licenses and state identification cards will no longer be required to provide medical documentation of a gender transition. Illinois is now the eleventh U.S. jurisdiction to adopt the policy of self-designation for gender marker corrections on government-issued IDs.

"We are excited by the modernized policy for gender marker corrections on Illinois driver’s licenses and state ID cards,” said Myles Brady Davis, Director of Communications and Press Secretary at Equality Illinois, the state’s civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. “Individuals themselves know best what gender marker is appropriate for them. We thank Secretary of State Jesse White and his excellent team for their public service and thoughtful implementation of this policy. We thank our amazing partners at The National Center for Transgender Equality(NCTE) for their guidance and expertise in making this policy a reality for TIGNC Illinoisans. The modernized policy continues Illinois’ proud tradition of supporting and affirming TIGNC people.”

“NCTE applauds the Secretary of State’s office for this important modernization to the driver’s license gender change policy,” said Arli Christian, State Policy Director at The National Center for Transgender Equality. “Removing barriers to obtaining an accurate updated ID ensures that transgender Illinoisans can go about their daily lives free from discrimination and harassment.”

“My philosophy of life has been to encourage inclusion and combat discrimination” said Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. “I’m pleased to work with Equality Illinois and NCTE on this policy change—one that will truly help individuals in deeply personal and important ways.”

Self-designation is when an individual reports information on an application that does not need to be verified by any secondary source. Self-designation policies are generally already used on state identification cards and driver’s licenses for information such as height, weight, hair color, and eye color.

Click here to view Illinois Secretary of State's Gender Designation Change Form.

The following ten U.S. jurisdictions allow individuals to correct their gender on driver’s licenses and state identification cards without requiring medical documentation: Arkansas, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia. Such policies are fully compliant with federal laws such as the REAL ID Act.

Previously, the policy in Illinois required an individual who requested a gender marker correction to provide a medical report form, psychiatric report form, physician’s statement, or other documentation to indicate that a gender change has occurred or the individual is in the process of undergoing a gender transition. Requiring such a verification from healthcare providers or other officials was an unnecessary barrier for individuals who sought to obtain an accurate ID. Individuals may not have insurance, may not have access to a supportive healthcare provider, or may not be able to afford the payment for a visit or multiple visits to obtain a signature.

According to Illinois data from the 2015 U.S. Trans Survey, 33% of those who saw a health care provider in the past year reported having at least one negative experience related to being transgender, 24% of respondents did not see a doctor when they needed to because of fear of being mistreated as a transgender person, and 29% did not see a doctor when needed because they could not afford it. These statistics only scratch the surface of the very real discrimination that exists in the lives of TIGNC people regarding the healthcare system.