TAMPA, Fla. — A new piece of legislation, House Bill 1639, seeks to legally define the words of gender and sex in the state and for state IDs like to reflect a persons sex at birth.
What You Need To Know
- House Bill 1639 would require someone's biological sex to be listed on a state ID and health insurance plan
- Rep. Douglas Bankson is the bill's sponsor
- Critics of the bill, like Ashley T. Brundage, believe measures like this are discriminatory against the LGBTQ+
“It removes it from that subjective issue that is going on socially to something concrete medically,” said Rep. Douglas Bankson, the bill’s sponsor. “If someone were to be incapacitated or unable to communicate, it’s important for first responders for when seconds matter to know the underlining characteristics of their physiology.”
As the bill makes its way through committee meetings, the director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles released a memo saying Floridians can no longer change or update their gender on Florida driver licenses. The memo says that gender change is not supported by current statutory authority and says in part, “The term gender does not refer to a persons internal sense or his or hers gender role or identification — but has historically and commonly been understood as a synonym for sex.”
The memo and the bill are seen by some within the LGBTQ+ community as discriminatory. Ashley T. Brundage, a local advocate for the transgender community, says these steps are nothing more than an attack on the LGBTQ+ community.
“Its not just a driver’s license — it’s correctly identifying someone’s actual identity,” Brundage said. “I mean, it is power to be able to know that you have a document that brings validity to your existence in this world.”
Brundage says these measures are simply a tool to create fear in the LGBTQ+ community.
“It just seems like another layer that we’re trying to scare people to not live in Florida and that’s the hard part for me,” Brundage said. “Living in Florida is what I’ve always known and I know it be a great place — it’s all about trying to get a marginalized identity groups to be scared to live in Florida and have them move somewhere else.”
Despite these measures, Brundage says that you can still get your name changed and that it’s important to reach out to organizations that can help like the Southern Legal Council and changemyname.org.
Equality Florida put out a statement saying in part: “This cruel policy threatens transgender Floridians with civil and criminal penalties and blocks them from obtaining the critical government-issued identification necessary to continue their daily lives.”
The bill has more one more committee stop before it makes it to the House floor.