By Bob Katzen

The State Administration and Regulatory Oversight Committee held a hearing on a proposal that would allow Bay Staters to choose the gender-neutral designation “X” in lieu of “male” or “female” on state identifying documents including birth certificates, marriage licenses, driver’s licenses, learner’s permit, identification cards and liquor purchase identification cards. The Senate approved a similar proposal in April. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia currently allow a gender-neutral option on driver’s licenses.

“Being non-binary is a real and valid gender identity,” testified 25-year-old Ryley Copans who is planning to get married. “We want to be recognized as we are.”

“It’s bad practice and contrary to our security and our values to expect Massachusetts residents to pretend to be someone else or to lie about who they are when they seek state identification and licenses,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Mindy Domb (D-Amherst). “Forcing individuals to choose from two options, when we know that for some it will not represent who they are, sanctions dishonesty, promotes stigma and keeps our neighbors invisible. When we take away the opportunity to be our authentic selves, we take away our humanity.”

“If you look at your Massachusetts driver’s license, it lists ‘sex,’ not ‘gender,’” said Massachusetts Family Institute President Andrew Beckwith. “The concept of ‘gender identity’ is based on internal feelings, but sex is binary (male or female) and grounded in biology. And we believe that a state ID should reflect that objective fact.”

“Many Massachusetts residents who do not identify as exclusively male or female are currently forced to carry documents that do not accurately reflect their identity,” said Chris Erchull, a staff attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD). “As residents in more and more states are obtaining identification documents with a gender-neutral “X” marker, it is imperative that the Massachusetts House votes to pass this legislation now, not only because Massachusetts should be a leader in LGBTQ equality, but also to eliminate barriers for people who wish to relocate here from other states.”

The Catholic Action League called the proposed law “a deranged idea, recklessly embraced without regard for societal harm or unpredictable consequences.” Catholic Action League Executive Director C. J. Doyle testified, “Science, reason, common sense, natural law and millennia of human experience all tell us that there are only two biological sexes. The very concept of gender identity is artificial, subjective and potentially open-ended.”

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