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Florida Officials Tighten Restrictions on Gender Marker Changes on Driver’s Licenses

Florida’s transgender population is at risk of having their driver’s licenses revoked or facing legal repercussions if they attempt to alter their gender markers on their IDs, as outlined in a memo shared on social media.

Memo By Robert Kynoch

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The memo, dated January 26, was issued by Robert Kynoch, the deputy executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

It underscores the growing scrutiny of transgender rights in the state amid legislative actions by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Republican lawmakers.

Stricter Guidelines For Gender Marker Changes

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Kynoch’s memo clarified that the process of establishing gender on a Florida Driver License relies on supporting documents submitted with the application.

These documents must sufficiently establish the applicant’s identity, as mandated by Florida law.

Deliberately Misrepresenting Gender A Crime

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Importantly, the memo highlighted that deliberately misrepresenting one’s gender, equated with sex, on a driver’s license constitutes fraud under Florida Statute s. 322.212, exposing the offender to potential criminal and civil penalties.

These penalties may include the cancellation, suspension, or revocation of the individual’s driver’s license.

Rescinded Requirements And Limited Replacement

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The memo also revealed that the department had rescinded prior requirements that instructed personnel to issue a new license if a licensee sought to alter the gender marker on their license.

Replacement License Only In Specific Situations

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The department now allows the issuance of a replacement license only in specific situations, such as when a license or permit is lost or stolen, or when there is a subsequent change in the licensee’s name, address, or restrictions.

Defining “Gender” And Its Impact On Identification

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Kynoch’s memo included a definition of “gender,” noting that it historically and commonly referred to a person’s innate and immutable biological and genetic characteristics, rather than their internal sense of gender role or identification.

Driver’s License Primarily An Identification Document

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He argued that a driver’s license primarily serves as an identification document, aiding public and private entities in accurately establishing a person’s identity.

Altering License Undermines Its Purpose

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Permitting individuals to alter their license to reflect their internal sense of gender role or identity, which is neither immutable nor objectively verifiable, would undermine the purpose of an identification record and hinder the state’s enforcement of its laws.

Legal Implications And Concerns

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Civil rights attorney Alejandra Caraballo shared the memo on social media, highlighting the potential legal consequences for transgender individuals.

Trans Individuals Might Face License Suspension

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According to Caraballo, transgender individuals who have already changed their gender markers could face license suspension, while those attempting to change them in the future may be subject to criminal prosecution for fraud.

Charged With Fraud

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Caraballo expressed concerns that “if the language used in this directive is taken at face value, any trans person driving with a changed gender marker on their drivers license could be criminally charged with fraud. This interpretation could potentially apply to anyone driving in the state, including tourists.”

A Way For Outing Trans People

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Caraballo further said that this ruling is a “‘show me your papers’ policy for trans people in the state of Florida. Trans people are now at risk for having their licenses revoked or suspended at any time.”

A Dangerous Change

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Caraballo  emphasized that “it’s the legal erasure and criminalization of the entire trans community. It’s a dangerous change that will forcibly out trans people and put them at immense risk for discrimination and violence.”

Legislative Measures And Transgender Population Statistics

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This development follows legislative actions in Florida, including a bill approved by the Florida House Select Committee on Health Innovation. The bill seeks to require driver’s licenses to display the licensee’s sex assigned at birth rather than their gender identity.

Florida Trans Community

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As of a 2022 report from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, approximately 94,900 adults in Florida identify as transgender, with an additional 16,200 individuals between the ages of 13 and 17 identifying as transgender in the state. These statistics underscore the potential impact of the new policy on a significant portion of the population.

Source: Transgender People in Florida Face Having Their Driver’s Licenses Revoked (msn.com)

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