Non-Binary New Yorker Sues State Over Driver’s License Policy

Sander Saba sued New York State in response to a policy that only allows “male” and “female” designations on driver’s licenses.
Lambda Legal

A non-binary transgender New York resident backed by Lambda Legal is suing the State of New York over its policy banning non-binary individuals from receiving a driver’s license consistent with their gender identity.

The state currently only offers driver’s licenses with “male” and “female” designations, leaving non-binary individuals out of the mix entirely.

“My request is simple — to have a driver’s license that matches my identity,” Saba, the 25-year-old individual suing the state in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, said in a written statement provided by Lambda Legal. “It’s demeaning to be forced to carry identity documentation that is inconsistent with my identity. The State of New York should respect who I am, recognize me as non-binary, and issue me an accurate driver’s license.”

The outdated policy on driver’s license is lingering despite the revamping of other government-issued documentation in the state. New York City birth certificates.

The New York City Council in 2018 passed a law that added a gender-neutral “X” option on birth certificates, while New York State Attorney General Letitia James unveiled a new policy earlier this year allowing minors born in the state to change the gender marker on their birth certificate. That policy also made it easier for adults to update the gender marker on their birth certificate without having to go to a doctor.

Saba has a New York City birth certificate and an older Pennsylvania-based driver’s license, both of which have an “X” designation. But they need a driver’s license consistent with their gender identity in order to replace their out-of-state license with a New York one in accordance with state law.

“By prohibiting non-binary people from obtaining a driver’s license with an accurate gender marker, the State of New York is depriving them of an essential government identity document and compelling them to carry untruthful documentation about who they are,” Carl Charles, staff attorney at Lambda Legal, said in a written statement. “Studies show that having inaccurate identification documents exposes non-binary and transgender people to discrimination, harassment, and violence. By prohibiting non-binary people from having accurate driver’s licenses, one of the most commonly used and accessible forms of identity documents, New York is limiting their opportunities to fully participate in society and causing ongoing harm to their well-being.”

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