BOSTON (SHNS) – The Senate unanimously passed two identification-related bills Thursday, including a gender diversity proposal that was expanded on the floor to allow a person to retroactively change the gender listed on their marriage license.
The so-called “Gender X” bill aims to allow nonbinary, gender-diverse, and transgender people the option of selecting a gender other than the “male” or “female” choices long offered on government documents. Despite passing the Senate multiple times in recent terms, the proposal — long a priority of Senate President Karen Spilka — has not gained traction in the House.
Meantime, the Registry of Motor Vehicles on its own began offering a “Gender X” option on driver’s licenses and state ID cards in 2019. In addition to codifying RMV’s current practice into law, the bill (S 2425) would give similar options for birth certificates, and “directs the state to develop a plan for nonbinary options on all state forms and documents,” Sen. Jo Comerford said.
“People know what gender they are. They don’t need a doctor’s note or the state to tell them. Our current binary options are archaic, limited, and overly restrictive, and have created a situation where government is infringing on people’s civil right to self-identify,” the Northampton Democrat said.
Senators made one edit to the bill before passing it, adding a new section that would allow gender identifications to be retroactively edited on marriage certificates. Sponsored by Sen. Barry Finegold, the marriage license section would allow someone to change their gender on the document if the marriage is “still legally intact” and their spouse submits a notarized statement “consenting to the amendment.”
On the Senate floor, Comerford thanked Reps. Mindy Domb and Marjorie Decker for supporting the proposal on the House side of the building, and said she believed “this will be the session where this bill becomes law.”
The Senate also passed a bill filed by first-term Sen. Robyn Kennedy (S 2251) to create a path for people experiencing homelessness to apply for fee-waived state ID cards from the RMV. Kennedy cited a list of areas where a person who is homeless faces “barriers” without a form of ID, such as applying for housing, applying for jobs, gaining health insurance, or even getting a library card.