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Maryland Vehicle Administration Threatens to Change Policy on Gender Markers

From the mailbag comes this news, courtesy of Equality Maryland. The implications are dreadful…


Subject: URGENT: MVA Threatens to Change Policy on Gender Markers

The Maryland Vehicle Administration (MVA) is currently considering an update to their policy regarding changing the gender marker on a driver's license effective January 1, 2010.

Current Policy: To change the gender marker, an applicant must provide a physician or psychologist’s report to confirm that the applicant is in active treatment. The MVA requires annual re-evaluations until the applicant “meets requirements for permanent gender change.” If you are using a name other than your birth name, you must bring the document that initiated the change of name, such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree or court name change order and your current License.

New Policy: The new policy would require an amended birth certificate. This requires going through the court system. Maryland code states that they will issue a birth certificate reflecting the proper gender only upon receipt of a certified copy of an order of from a court indicating that the sex of an individual born has been changed by surgical procedure and whether such individual's name has been changed. You cannot change the sex on a birth certificate simply by providing proof that you are undergoing medical treatment or procedures for gender reassignment.

The MVA has authority under the Maryland Transportation Code to issue corrected driver's licenses and to establish the rules and regulations for such issuances, however they should do so with an eye to the fact that the current policy is already working and with respect for the transgender community!

This new policy creates additional hoops and legal fees for transgender Marylanders who are looking to update their driver's license. Having a legal identity document that does not match a person’s gender exposes them to potential risk not just of embarrassment, but of harassment as well.

A similar change was considered in the past. Due to the fact that the MVA was unable to demonstrate any reasoning behind the change it was halted. There is still no evidence of the need for a policy change, nor is there any requirement in state or federal law to do so.

Equality Maryland has been working hard in coalition with several of our partners to resolve this matter, but at this point the MVA is prepared to move forward with this very backward and potentially dangerous policy change in the New Year.

The policy that we have in place is similar to the requirements in other states. It is working. It balances the need of the state to provide appropriate protocols with respect for the individual. A policy update that is made without any real need that has such a terrible impact on a community does not seem like a very logical decision or a fair course of action by a government agency.

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What can I do?

  • Stand up with us! Contact Governor O'Malley's office and ask them to halt the implementation of this short sighted and dangerous policy change. Visit to take action.
  • Support our efforts to protect the rights of transgender Marylanders! We are on the front lines with you everyday working to update and enhance the protections that exist for transgender Marylanders and avoid rollbacks like this one. Donate to Equality Maryland and help us keep up the fight! Visit to learn about the many ways you can support EQMD.

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