LINCOLN — Nebraskans would have a third gender option on their driver’s licenses and state identification cards under a bill introduced Thursday in the Legislature.
Legislative Bill 873 would allow residents to choose “non,” as in nonbinary, instead of male or female when applying for a license or ID card.
State Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha, Nebraska’s first openly bisexual lawmaker, said she introduced the measure after hearing from a number of people who want to have their identification accurately reflect their gender. She wouldn’t predict how the bill would fare in the Legislature.
“I think Nebraska’s ready,” she said. “What I’m not sure about is if the Legislature is ready.”
The measure would add Nebraska to a growing list of states offering a gender-neutral option for official identification documents. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia now allow people to choose non or X as their gender, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Nebraska currently offers the traditional pair of genders on driver’s licenses and state IDs. Hunt said no state law prohibits the Department of Motor Vehicles from adding to those choices administratively. But she said she was not aware of any plan to add a neutral option.
Adam Eakin, a project and information manager at the DMV, said agency officials have not yet had time to assess the bill.
Nonbinary people are those who don’t fit easily into the categories of male or female. Recognition of nonbinary, sometimes called genderqueer, people has increased along with awareness about transgender people.
Currently, Nebraska allows transgender residents to change their gender designation on a driver’s license or state ID card after they have undergone surgery. They must submit a certificate of sex reassignment, signed by a doctor, chiropractor, physician’s assistant or advanced practice nurse.
Under LB 873, Nebraskans would not have to provide documentation of their gender when applying for a driver’s license or state ID card.
The bill would also make it easier to change the gender on a person’s birth certificate. Current law allows for such a change after people have undergone surgery altering their genitals and other sexual characteristics. People must present an affidavit from the surgeon and a court order.
Hunt’s bill and a similar one offered by Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue (LB 754) would allow a change in the birth certificate with an affidavit from a doctor saying that the change is warranted or with a court order.
A 2016 survey by the transgender equality center found that about a third of respondents had experienced verbal harassment, been denied service or worse when showing an ID with a gender that did not match how they appeared. But state laws and policies often make it difficult to update identification documents, which are essential for getting health care, boarding an airplane, starting a new job and more.