A memo circulating on social media suggests that transgender individuals in Florida may face the possibility of having their driver’s licenses revoked or even being prosecuted if they attempt to change their gender markers.
A memo dated January 26, issued by Robert Kynoch, the deputy executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, states that the process of establishing gender on a newly issued Florida Driver License is determined by the supporting documents provided with an application. This information was shared in a screenshot posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
According to an official, the required documents need to be adequate in order to verify the applicant’s identity, as mandated by Florida law. “In addition, falsely stating one’s gender, which is considered to be the same as their biological sex, on a driver’s license is considered fraudulent according to section 322,212 of the Florida Statutes. This can result in both criminal and civil consequences, such as the potential cancellation, suspension, or revocation of the offender’s driver’s license.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Republican lawmakers in the state have been actively addressing transgender rights, implementing measures such as prohibiting gender-affirming care for minors, placing limitations on discussions about personal pronouns in schools, and enforcing specific bathroom usage. Several other states led by Republican lawmakers are also enacting new legislation that specifically targets the LGBTQ+ community.
In a recent memo, Kynoch announced that the department has reversed its previous requirements regarding gender marker changes on licenses. Personnel will no longer be directed to issue a new license if a licensee wants to alter their gender marker.”According to the department, a replacement license can only be issued in cases where the license or permit has been lost or stolen, or if there have been changes to the licensee’s name, address, or restrictions,” stated the official.
In a recent statement, Kynoch highlighted that the term “gender” has traditionally been used interchangeably with “sex,” referring to an individual’s biological and genetic characteristics. Kynoch emphasized that it does not encompass a person’s internal sense of their gender role or identification.
In a recent statement, he emphasized the importance of a driver’s license as an identification document. He highlighted its crucial role in helping both public and private entities accurately verify the identity of individuals who present their license. Allowing individuals to change their licenses to match their internal sense of gender role or identity, which is not permanent or objectively provable, challenges the purpose of an identification record and may hinder the state’s ability to enforce its laws.
Alejandra Caraballo, a civil rights attorney and clinical instructor at the Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, expressed concern regarding the potential suspension of any transgender individual who has undergone a change in their identification documents. Anyone who tries to alter it afterwards may face criminal charges for ‘fraud.’
According to Caraballo’s previous statements, it appears that individuals who have changed their gender marker on their driver’s license may potentially face criminal charges for fraud, based on the language used in this directive. This potential interpretation could be relevant to all drivers in the state, including those who are visiting.”
According to her, the policy in the state of Florida is being described as a “show me your papers” approach for trans individuals. Transgender individuals face the potential threat of having their licenses revoked or suspended at any given moment. The trans community is facing a concerning situation where their rights are being undermined and they are being subjected to criminalization. This change has raised concerns about the potential risks faced by trans individuals, including discrimination and violence.