Arkansas Supreme Court Upholds New ID Rule, Eliminating ‘X’ Gender Option

The Arkansas Supreme Court has reinstated a rule that removes the ‘X’ gender option from state-issued IDs and driver’s licenses. This decision affects transgender, intersex, and nonbinary residents who now must choose between ‘male’ or ‘female’ designations.

The state’s Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) announced in March that the ‘X’ option, first introduced in 2010, conflicted with existing state law. They implemented an emergency rule to align with legislative approval, which a lower court had previously blocked. However, the Supreme Court’s order has reversed this block without providing detailed reasons.

Attorney General Tim Griffin supported the decision, stating it ensures the DFA’s compliance with state laws. Critics, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), argue that this change disregards the needs of nonbinary and intersex individuals, potentially leading to confusion and discrimination.

Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, criticized the decision, saying it forces individuals to choose inaccurate gender markers, resulting in distress and harm. The ACLU had previously sued the state on behalf of affected residents, with a judge temporarily blocking the rule to prevent harm.

The DFA’s Jim Hudson expressed gratitude for the court’s ruling, confirming the immediate reinstatement of the new procedures. Previously issued IDs with the ‘X’ designation remain valid until their expiration dates. Arkansas, one of 22 states that allowed the ‘X’ option, has over 2.6 million active licenses, with only 387 bearing the ‘X’ marker.

This ruling also makes it harder for transgender individuals to amend the sex on their IDs. Previously, they could use an amended birth certificate, but the new rule now requires a court order for such changes.

The state is working on adopting a permanent rule to solidify this policy, marking a significant shift in how Arkansas handles gender identification on official documents.

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