Hawaii Adds Third Gender Option For State-Issued IDs

Gov. David Ige signed into law three bills that strengthened LGBTQ rights in the state, including one that added gender "X" to state IDs and driver's licenses.

Hawaii has joined a wave of states across the country that are giving nonbinary individuals more gender options on state-issued IDs.

Gov. David Ige signed House Bill 1165 into law on Wednesday. It adds a new gender option beyond “male” and “female” on application forms for driver’s licenses and state IDs.

Ige signed the bill along with two other pieces of legislation that focus on LGBTQ rights.

Starting July 1, 2020, Hawaii residents will see a third gender option, “X,” on these forms. The legislation aims to reduce discrimination against nonbinary individuals who do not identify exclusively as male or female.

The new law also notes that individuals who opt for “X” will not have to provide any documentation to prove their gender.

Khara Jabola-Carolus, executive director of the Hawai’i State Commission on the Status of Women, said the new law falls in line with gender inclusivity that was inherent for Native Hawaiians.

“This wasn’t just about simple recognition of transgender folks by the mainstream,” Jabola-Carolus said in an Instagram post. “It was about [the] decolonization of the status of gender minorities and women, and taking a step to honor the inclusive society of Native Hawaiians.”

Another bill signed into law Wednesday, which became effective immediately, made it illegal for defendants in court cases to use the gay and transgender “panic defense.” The “panic defense” is a legal defense tactic used in cases, typically involving violence, in which the defendant claims they were under emotional distress after finding out the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

A third law, which will become effective July 1, addressed existing laws banning efforts to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The legislation clarified that it was illegal to use so-called conversion therapy or treatments on minors.

Hawaii is among 17 jurisdictions that have made a nonbinary option available for identification purposes, including on state-issued IDs or birth certificates, according to a tally kept by the Intersex and Genderqueer Recognition Project.

New York City, Oregon, New Jersey and New Mexico have made the “X” gender option available on birth certificates, according to The New York Times.

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