Supreme Court Removes Gender-Neutral Option from State IDs

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti recently discussed the ongoing debate about transgender healthcare for kids on ‘America’s Newsroom’. This conversation is timely, especially with recent changes in Arkansas.

On Tuesday, the Arkansas Supreme Court decided that people can no longer use a neutral gender identification, like “X”, on their state ID cards. This ruling brings back a state law that had banned the use of “X” as a gender option. Earlier this month, a lower court had stopped this law, saying it could harm transgender residents.

Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin, a Republican, was happy about the court’s decision. He said, “I applaud the Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision staying the circuit court’s unlawful order and allowing the Department of Finance and Administration to bring its identification rules into compliance with state law.”

This change came after the Arkansas ACLU had sued to end the new legislation in the spring. Holly Dickson, the executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, voiced her concerns. She said, “The only real emergency here is the one created by the state itself, imposing this rule on transgender, intersex, and nonbinary Arkansans.” She added that taking away the ‘X’ option forces people who don’t fit neatly into the male or female categories to choose a gender that doesn’t accurately represent them. This could cause confusion, distress, and even physical harm.

It’s important to note that fewer than half of U.S. states allow “X” as a gender option on IDs. With Arkansas’ decision, only 21 states and Washington, D.C., still have this policy. In Arkansas, of the 2.6 million active driver’s licenses, only 387 had the “X” designation. For the state’s 503,000 IDs, just 167 had the “X” designation.

The debate around gender identification is part of a larger conversation about transgender rights in America. What happens in one state can influence decisions in other states. For now, Arkansas has chosen to remove the “X” option, sparking discussions and legal battles that may continue for some time.