‘Gender X’ Bill To Get Hearing on Beacon Hill on Thursday

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A bill that would create a “Gender X” option for driver’s licenses and birth certificates in Massachusetts is scheduled to get a hearing before a legislative committee on Beacon Hill on Thursday.

Parents would get to choose “X” for sex rather than male or female for their babies’ birth certificates, or they could request a change for their minor children later in life. Adults 18 and older could make the request themselves, without needing documentation to do it.

“X” would also be an option for state driver’s licenses, in addition to the current male and female.

The bill, S. 2055, says “X” “may indicate nonbinary, intersex, undesignated or other gender.”

Supporters say it would provide people who don’t identify with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex a way to express who they think they are.

State Senator Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) identified Gender X driver’s licenses as a priority for her shortly after she was elected the chamber’s president on July 26, 2018.

In a maiden speech as Senate President that lasted 25 minutes 25 seconds, Spilka spent 2 minutes 52 seconds, or 11 percent of her time, on the Gender X driver’s license:

Every day, the stories of people’s lives shape the choices that we make here. And the choices we make — as legislators, as advocates, as citizens — shape the stories of individuals and families across the Commonwealth. I received a poignant reminder of this recently, when a young person in my district named Ella sent me a letter about a driver’s license. What should have been a day of celebration and rite of passage for this young person turned to a source of stress and frustration. That letter read, “I am going to start driving lessons this fall and I would be ecstatic to have a more neutral option than ‘Male’ or ‘Female’ on my license.” From an instant, my understanding of a driver’s license went to that of a mundane government document to that of an opportunity to make the state a more inclusive place. The last two sentences of their letter really struck me. They said, “This is about validating and letting people be who they are. I need you to step up as an elected official and be my advocate for myself and others like me.” I was so impressed that I called Ella that day, and said, “Let’s work together to make that change.” When we help write the stories of our residents, I believe we must always aspire to justice and do our part to uphold human dignity. So, I am confident, that with the support of the leaders in this room, we will soon have a law in Massachusetts that will create a Gender X option for all licenses and state IDs. And with it, we will be one step closer to writing a story that lets people be who they are.

Opponents of the bill call officially enshrining “Gender X” an extreme step that would lead to false government documents that inaccurately sidestep the reality of biological sex and wreak havoc.

“This radical legislation further exposes the hypocrisy of the left’s agenda,” said Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, which advocates for Judeo-Christian moral principles on Beacon Hill, in a written statement. “They seek to ban youth football because it’s dangerous, yet they’ll require placing biological males on girls sports teams, endangering the safety of young women. They’ll demand preferred treatment for women and on boards and commissions, and then allow men to legally declare themselves ‘women’ through a quick license change.”

Beckwith questioned whether an official “Gender X” designation might hamper police searches for suspects or missing children, and whether cops will be accused of violating a criminal’s civil rights for “misgendering” the person. He also argued that if government allows people to ignore their biological sex, there’s no reason logically that people couldn’t choose a different race or age as they wish, regardless of reality.

“Proponents of the legislation provide no answers to the many practical and philosophical questions it raises. If our state starts discarding biological sex from our identity documents, it will impact facets of society from Amber alerts to children’s sports teams, to the draft,” Beckwith said in the written statement.

A spokesman for MassEquality, an advocacy organization that fights what it calls “discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression,” which is supporting the bill, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

A bill creating a Gender X for driver’s licenses nearly passed the Legislature last July, but less than two hours before the legislative session ended then-state Representative Jim Lyons, a conservative Republican from Andover, singlehandedly killed it by filing a few dozen amendments ostensibly seeking recognition for 73 genders identified on a Facebook page, including “gender-nonconforming,” “gender questioning,” “gender variant,” and “genderqueer.” Since each amendment would have required time for debate and a vote under House rules, leadership withdrew the bill from consideration.

Lyons, who lost his re-election bid in November 2018, is now chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party.

The current legislative session’s Gender X bill currently has 25 sponsors in the 200-member Legislature.

A hearing on the bill is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, March 28 before the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation in Room A-2 of the Massachusetts State House in Boston.