Victory: West Virginia Modernizes Driver’s License Policy | National Center for Transgender Equality

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Victory: West Virginia Modernizes Driver’s License Policy

After months of collaboration between the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), Fairness West Virginia, and elected officials in the state legislature, West Virginia’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) unrolled new policies this week making it easier for West Virginians to obtain a driver’s license that matches their gender identity.

While the previous policy required a court order to update the gender marker on a West Virginia driver’s license, all that is required under the new policy is a signed form from the applicant’s physician attesting to the applicant’s gender identity. The new policy also instructs DMV employees to refrain from asking invasive questions about an applicant’s gender identity or medical history.

West Virginia is unique among states in that DMV policy changes must pass through the state legislature. The fate of the legislation establishing this birth certificate policy was thrown into question earlier this year when, after an amendment adding a surgical requirement, the bill landed in conference committee. Fairness West Virginia immediately headed to the state capitol to meet with key legislators and save the bill, and when the conversation got complicated they called on NCTE State Policy Counsel Arli Christian to get on the phone with a Senator and clear up some questions. Good language was agreed upon in the last five minutes of conference committee! NCTE then worked with the DMV to develop the new, accessible gender marker change form. The result can be found here.

The new gender marker change form was unveiled at the same time the West Virginia DMV announced an update to their photo policy. The new photo policy prohibits DMV staff from asking license applicants to remove make-up, and comes as a result of the threat of lawsuit brought by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund on behalf of transgender women who were not allowed to take their license photos as they regularly appear.

NCTE remains committed to fighting for policies that allow transgender people to easily obtain identity documents that match their gender identity.

To learn more about identity document policies in your state, visit our ID Documents Center.

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