The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, November 26, 2019 1:00 am

BMV's proposed gender rule draws ire

Hoosiers speak out on non-binary choice

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Hoosiers on Monday spoke out against a proposed gender-change rule moving through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles process.

BMV Commissioner Peter Lacy attended to hear reactions to the proposed rule. It is rare for an agency head to be present at a rule-making hearing. He declined to comment.

If the BMV adopts the final rule with no changes, it would go to the attorney general and governor for review in December. The final rule would still have to be published, making the anticipated effective date March 5.

Heidi Pezdek of Rushville said giving minors the opportunity to check a box for a non-binary “X” option “affirms these gender confused children who are still developing their brains and their thoughts and gives a rubber stamp that this is legally valid.”

She urged the state agency not to fall into this “new social agenda.”

John Aukerman of Anderson said the BMV is compromising the integrity of licenses, and law enforcement needs to know the sex of a person so that proper procedures are followed. He noted his license says “sex” and not “gender identity” – saying sex is an immutable God-given characteristic you can't change.

Megan Stuart, an attorney with Indiana Legal Services Inc., regularly helps Hoosiers try to navigate the process and opposes the new rule.

But not for the reasons given by others Monday. She said the state already allows the change but this rule adds another unnecessary step to the process – going through the Indiana State Department of Health. 

The BMV this year started allowing Hoosiers to choose a non-binary “X” option as their gender on driver's licenses and ID's – initially in response to two court orders. That brought attention to the fact the BMV has been changing sex from male to female and vice versa since 2009. All that is needed is to download a form and have a physician sign it and then take it to the BMV.

The new process will be similar but includes an additional bureaucratic step.

Under the rule filed, Hoosiers would download an Indiana State Department of Health form and have their physician sign it. It says the person “has been under my care and has received appropriate clinical treatment for transition.” It has all options, including an X.

The person must then mail that form to the Indiana State Department of Health along with copies of their photo ID. The health department will then mail back another form – a confirmation of receipt of a physician's statement on gender change.

Then Hoosiers will take that form to their local BMV office.

Eventually, the state health department will accept the doctor's statement to change a birth certificate as well, but currently that still requires a court order.

Stuart said the sex assigned at birth is done with the information at the time, but as a person matures only they know their true gender identity. She also called those testifying about how paramedics need to know the sex of a person to treat them a “faux concern.” 

Stuart filed testimony Monday that said the rule targets transgender people unfairly. She noted the BMV IDs include five pieces of biographic information – sex, height, weight, eye and hair color. Four of them are self-reported.

“If I have grown, gained weight or gone completely gray I can simply walk into the BMV and update my ID,” she said. “I don't need to go to my doctor and get a letter confirming my height or weight.”

Hundreds of comments have also been filed electronically with the BMV. Virtually all of them oppose the rule, including Mary Carol Vanover of West Harrison.

“You do not have to give in to the madness of the politically correct crowd and those confused individuals demanding that you recognize them and their mental illness by formalizing it on their drivers' licenses,” she said.

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