Lawmaker to propose legislation to prevent gender-neutral driver’s license option

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A state lawmaker wants to pump the brakes on PennDOT offering gender-neutral driver's licenses in the new year. In a memo circulated to other state lawmaker's Rep. Jesse Topper, says he will be introducing legislation to require PennDOT, where sex is referenced, to revert back to only designating male or female.

“There are far more questions here than there are answers," said State Rep. Jesse Topper.

Rep. Topper believes more research needs to be done before offering a gender-neutral option on licenses. He feels at this point, it may also lead to confusion.

"I just want to make sure we have all the facts before we start making a dramatic changes to what we're looking for in terms of the law enforcement community, medical community," said Rep. Topper. "Again, why do we have this designation on our driver's licenses in the first place and if we don't need it anymore? What does that mean?"

However, Jessie Purdy, an activist for the LGTQ community says a gender-neutral option absolutely needs to be offered.

“It doesn't matter what you sex was assigned at birth," said Purdy. "Somebody would look at me, if my marker was not aligned with my feminine identity, it would be a mismatch because this is not a masculine appearance.”

Purdy says when people check ID's, what they're looking at is your gender, not your sex. She says, the theory that allowing a gender-neutral option will only cause problems for law enforcement and the medical community is used as a scare tactic.

“Sex is a misnomer on the ID. What people are really looking at when they check your ID is your gender presentation," said Purdy. "They're not checking what's beneath your clothing.

In response to Rep. Topper's future legislation, PennDOT issued this response:

PennDOT has authority under Section 1510 of the PA Vehicle Code to issue driver’s licenses and ID cards with a gender-neutral designation.

PennDOT has clear authority under the law to make this option available as part of our ongoing work to create a licensing product and process that is inclusive of all Pennsylvanians, and we would oppose any legislation that would prevent this from happening.

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