D.C. Becomes First U.S. Jurisdiction to Issue Gender-Neutral Driver's Licenses Critics Say Are Illegal

Nic Sakurai, a person who doesn't identify with a specific gender, made history when "they"—the pronoun Sakurai wants to be addressed by —became the first American to get a new gender-neutral driver's license in Washington D.C. on June 27.

(PHOTO: TWITTER/SAM SWEENEY)Nic Sakurai shows the driver's license document showing the new 'X' gender option as he stands outside the Department of Motor Vehicles in Washington D.C. on June 27, 2017.

The District was the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to offer such nonbinary driver's licenses and identification cards in which applicants can select their preferred gender from three choices—male, female or X, The Washington Post reported. The X signifies the neutral gender, the preferred designation for people like Sakurai who don't identify as male or female.

On Monday, Oregon followed suit, becoming the first state to issue gender-neutral IDs. Australia, Canada and India already offer gender-neutral passports.

For Sakurai, 36, having the nonbinary driver's license is a dream come true. "I don't feel that sense of gender as something that is part of my core innate experience," Sakurai told CNN. "I'm glad to finally have an ID that actually matches who I am."

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) joined the LGBTQ community in celebrating the milestone event, saying, "This change is the most recent example of our city's commitment to inclusivity."

Advocates say having gender-neutral IDs reduces the risk of harassment and discrimination experienced by people belonging to the LGBTQ community when their physical appearance does not match the gender printed on their ID.

"The safety and well-being of all Washingtonians is my top priority, and whenever we are presented with an opportunity to improve the lives of residents and better align our policies with D.C. values, I will take it," Bowser said.

However, the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch said the issuance of gender-neutral driver's licenses and IDs is actually illegal, citing the REAL ID Act, which was passed after the 9/11 terrorist attack and enacted in 2005, LifeSite News reported.

That law, Judicial Watch says, "specifically requires gender on each driver's license and identification card issued to a person by a state, adding that the law "prohibits federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards that do not meet these standards."