Massachusetts Senate clears ‘X’ gender choice for driver’s licenses


Staff Writer

Published: 07-31-2023 6:02 PM

BOSTON — The Senate moved Thursday to give people the option to select a nonbinary “X” identification on their driver’s licenses and birth certificates, a choice LGBTQ allies have been advocating for years.

The Massachusetts Senate unanimously voted to pass a bill, S. 2429, titled “An act relative to gender identity on Massachusetts identification,” which was filed by Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton.

The bill began as an effort to allow for gender “X” markers on driver’s licenses, and was originally filed by Senate President Karen Spilka, D-Ashland. In 2019, Comerford was asked to carry the bill, which she has now done for the last three sessions.

Since then, it has evolved to include birth certificates and driver’s licenses, along with a plan to include all state IDs.

This is the fourth consecutive session that the Senate has passed such legislation. However, in past sessions, the legislation has failed to pass in the House of Representatives.

“I think it’s a trans rights, civil rights and human rights bill,” Comerford said. “I do think this session we began with greater urgency than ever given that trans rights are under attack nationwide.”

Currently, state law does not allow for an “X” sex designation on Massachusetts birth certificates, only “female” and “male.” Further, those wishing to change their sex designation need to provide a notarized statement from a physician that states the individual has completed medical intervention.

The bill would create an “X” sex designation on birth certificates. It would also allow any person over 18, emancipated minor or parent of a minor to request a sex designation change on a birth certificate without a requirement of medical documentation, court order or proof of name change.

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“Allowing a nonbinary option for state licenses and birth certificates is fundamental to building a society that welcomes, protects and respects all individuals,” Spilka, the original sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.

If implemented, the law would add Massachusetts to a list of 26 other states that already allow individuals to change the sex designation on their birth certificate without medical documentation or court order. It would also put Massachusetts among 16 states that allow for an “X” gender designation on birth certificates.

As for driver’s licenses, individuals can already select “X” as their gender designation under the Registry of Motor Vehicles, but the bill would codify the practice into law, protecting residents’ right to this option in the long-term.

In addition, the bill would direct the secretary of administration and finance to develop a plan ensuring that any state form or document requiring a gender identity would include a nonbinary gender option.

“I believe that the right to self-identify is a civil right, and I believe that trans rights are human rights,” said Comerford. “I think everybody knows I’m a member of the LGBTQ family and these are my family members. … I’m awake to the kinds of discrimination faced by trans people every day.”

Comerford added that, with the input of LGBTQ groups and constituents, the bill also includes a section that would require state agencies that work with youth and young adults to disseminate information and provide assistance to youth around sex and gender designations on state documents.

While debating the bill, the Senate also unanimously decided to adopt an amendment giving an individual the ability to amend the gender designation on their marriage certificate.

The bill will now move to the House, where it will receive a hearing in the fall.

Maddie Fabian can be reached at or on Twitter @MaddieFabian.