License change allows non-binary Michigan residents to use 'X' on ID

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Starting next week, Michigan residents will be able to use "X" as a sex marker on their driver's license or state ID to indicate they are non-binary.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Tuesday announced the change set to take effect Nov. 10, about two years after the Detroit Democrat reinstituted a policy in 2019 that allowed residents to change their sex on their driver's license without medical or legal documentation. 

Benson's office said in January 2020 that it was working to add a third gender option to Michigan licenses, but it had to be incorporated in the state's driver's license database software. The state finished its software overhaul in March 2021.

“We have been working toward this goal since 2019, when we first removed the barriers for residents to change their sex marker in order to help protect their safety and accurately reflect their identity," Benson said in a statement. 

Starting next week, Michigan residents will be able to use "X" as a sex marker on their driver's license or state ID to indicate they are non-binary, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Tuesday.

Part of the state's overhaul of its software included allowing more transactions to occur online in addition to the non-binary option. 

Residents who want to change their sex marker from "M" or "F" to "X" can visit a Secretary of State Office after Nov. 10. They should schedule a visit for an ID or license correction. 

Michigan joins 20 other states and the District of Columbia that already allow residents to change their licenses to a third option for their sex marker. 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, with a coalition of other LGBT-friendly groups, requested Benson provide a third option in a letter sent to the Democratic secretary of state after she took office in January 2019. 

At the time, Benson said the department’s technology prevented her from offering such an option and instead first made changes for transgender people to more easily switch their gender designation from male to female or female to male.

Before Benson's 2019 change to state policy,  Michigan residents were required to provide a birth certificate, passport or court order to change the designation. Benson’s 2019 change allowed individuals to change that designation by filling out a form, visiting an office to have their photo taken and paying the $9 correction fee for a driver’s license or $10 fee for a state ID.

eleblanc@detroitnews.com