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Florida Walks Back Policy Permitting Changing ID To Match Gender Identity

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The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles issued a memo Friday changing a previous rule that allowed Floridians to change their driver’s license to match their gender identity.

The Sunshine State previously allowed transgender individuals to get their license changed if they were transitioning, according to the memo. The department, however, said in the memo that conflating sex with gender defeats the purpose of and “identification record” and changed the policy to only allow a person’s biological sex to remain on file.

“Furthermore, the term ‘gender’ in s. 322.08, F.S., does not refer to a person’s internal sense of his or her gender role or identification but has historically and commonly been understood as a synonym for ‘sex,’ which is determined by innate and immutable biological and genetic characteristics,” the memo reads. “Permitting an individual to alter his or her license to reflect an internal sense of gender role or identity, which is neither immutable nor objectively verifiable, undermines the purpose of an identification record and can frustrate the state’s ability to enforce its laws.”

Following the updated policy, the department will only be able to issue a new driver’s license if the old one is lost or stolen and not if someone wishes to transition, according to the memo.

Florida Democrats reacted with outrage to the decision, with Nikki Fried, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, sayingTuesday that “Florida Republicans’ obsession with trans people has to stop.”

“Instead of addressing our raging property insurance crisis or out-of-control rent hikes, the GOP continues to pursue blatantly transphobic policies to serve their made-up culture wars,” Fried said.

The new policy is similar to a piece of legislation working through the Florida Senate and House of Representatives which would make the department’s policy law as well as create new requirements for applications for “health insurance policies, group health insurance policies, health benefit plans, & health maintenance contracts relating to coverage for sex-reassignment prescriptions or procedures & certain mental health & therapeutic services.”

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