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Your Choice: Wrong Gender on Driver's License, or Surgery

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July 19, 2011

In Alaska, if you’re a transgender person, the state requires you to have surgery to change the gender marker on your driver’s license. Today, the ACLU filed a brief challenging this state surgery requirement on behalf of a transgender woman, K.L.

K.L. has lived as a woman for two years, and whose work documents and even her U.S. passport all identify her as female. But when she tried to change the gender on her state driver’s license, she was told she had to submit proof of having undergone sex reassignment surgery.

Which is ridiculous. The American Psychiatric Association and medical experts agree that surgery is not medically necessary for some with gender identity disorder (GID). Some transgender people can be effectively treated without it, making it unnecessary for the state to confirm whether or not an individual has had surgery before correcting a license.

Also, surgery is incredibly expensive and potentially risky. The State Department no longer requires transgender people to have surgery before it will correct the gender marker on passports, and a growing number of states have stopped requiring surgery for changing the gender marker on a driver’s license.

So what’s wrong with Alaska? We hope to find out with today’s lawsuit. Stay tuned.

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