Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

Arkansas Supreme Court reinstates rule eliminating ‘X’ option for sex on state IDs

By 37ci3 Jun25,2024

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Supreme Court reinstated the agency’s rule on Monday prohibits residents from using the letter “X”. instead of male or female on state-issued driver’s licenses or identification cards.

In a one-page ruling, the justices upheld a lower court ruling that blocked a new rule that would make it harder for transgender people to change the gender listed on their ID cards and licenses. The court did not disclose the reasons for suspending the decision.

The Arkansas Department of Finance and Management said in March it was ending the practice, which was introduced in 2010 and that officials said conflicted with state law and did not receive the appropriate legislative approval. The Legislature approved an emergency order implementing the new policy.

The rule change made Arkansas the last of the Republican states to take action legally defines Critics say that, like gender binary, it essentially erases the existence of transgender and non-binary people, and creates uncertainty for intersex people — those born with physical characteristics that don’t fit typical definitions of male or female.

“I welcome the Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision to stay the district court’s illegal decision and allow the Department of Finance and Administration to bring its identification rules into line with state law,” Republican Attorney General Tim Griffin said in a statement.

There was the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state on behalf of several transgender, non-binary and intersex residents protesting the emergency order. A state judge blocked the rule earlier this month, saying it would cause irreparable harm to residents if implemented.

“The only real emergency here is the one created by the state itself and applying this rule to transgender, intersex and non-binary Arkansans,” said Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas. By removing the ‘X’ marker option, the state is forcing those who do not fit the gender binary to choose an inaccurate gender marker, resulting in potential confusion, distress, discrimination, physical harm and lack of proper identification.”

Arkansas is in the process of adopting a permanent rule to implement the new policy.

Department of Finance and Administration Secretary Jim Hudson said he was grateful for the stay and that the department had immediately resumed procedures following the court order.

Arkansas was among at least 22 states and the District of Columbia that allowed the letter “X” on licenses and ID cards. All previously issued Arkansas licenses and identification cards marked with an “X” will remain valid until their current expiration dates, the department said. There are more than 2.6 million active driver’s licenses in the state of Arkansas, and 387 of them have an “X” on them. The state has approximately 503,000 ID cards and 167 ID cards with an “X” designation.

The state of emergency will also make it difficult for transgender people to change the gender listed on their passports and identity cards, which they can do by submitting an amended birth certificate. Arkansas law requires a court order for a person to change the gender on their birth certificate.

DFA said the previous practice was not supported by state law and did not go through the required public comment process and legislative review.

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By 37ci3

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