As of November 10, nonbinary Michigan residents can choose the option of "X" for their sex, a move that has been in the works since November 2019. When Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson worked on making it easier for transgender residents to change their sex marker on state-issued IDs.
Now there are three options for Michiganders to choose from Male, Female, and X.
Before the new law took effect, residents would have to show a birth certificate, passport, or court order to change the designation. They also had to pay $9 and take a new photo for their identification cards.
Benson released a statement stating that she is proud to have helped transgender and nonbinary residents be able to live their truth.
"I am proud to support Michiganders across the state who for many years have called on the Department of State to provide a non-binary sex marker on their ID that matches their lived reality."
The new law follows an announcement by the federal government that passports will now include an X for the nonbinary community. In the United States, it is estimated that 1.2 million Americans identify as nonbinary, which represents about 11% of the LGBTQIA+ community.
It also follows nearly two dozen other states and D.C. that allow for a third option on identification applications.
Carrick Copeland, who is a program director at SAGE Metro Detroit, praised the new law. They revealed to WXYZ that the new law made life a bit better for them.
"For me, it means that I don't feel like the label man or woman fully describes me. I feel like I'm something else entirely and having this option is very meaningful to me."
Copeland joined Benson yesterday to tout the new law. They discussed the reasons for it and how it would impact the lives of the residents that identified as nonbinary, there was also talk about why this was an essential step for Michigan to take.
However, there were questions from law enforcement agencies about the new law. Specifically, they are unsure how to enforce the laws and how things are supposed to work now.
Warren Police Chief William Dwyer spoke about the challenges that they face. He mentioned that there was no time for the police departments to adapt to the new law, adding that there is some confusion surrounding it.
"We understand what the Secretary of State is attempting to do, but we're concerned over, first of all, the lack of time to be able to implement this procedure."
Robert Stevenson, the executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, joined Dwyer in talking about the concerns about how to enforce the new law and what that means for police actions like frisking.
Dwyer does allow that a simple traffic stop won't be much of an issue. It's when things escalate or if there is another issue that he believes problem that might arise.
"If it's a simple traffic stop, we can deal with that, but it goes further than that, how are you going to house prisoners? How are you going to search these prisoners? Those are issues that will be addressed, but it's going to take time. It's not going to happen overnight."
There are also concerns about cops being sued. He continued that the law needed to be followed by the police agencies and assured everyone that his officers would follow the law. He just wants to make sure that they know what is expected of them.
"Let's look at the possibility of lawsuits, the liability issues that are here. This has got to be carefully implemented and it's going to take time to make sure that we follow the law, which we always do. We don't want to make any mistakes."
At press time, Benson had not commented on Dwyer and Stevenson's concerns.
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