WARSAW — Some Indiana state lawmakers are ready to take action to stop the Bureau of Motor Vehicles from moving forward with offering motorists a third gender option when applying for a new driver’s licenses.
Lawmakers participating in a Third House legislative update on Friday, March 15, at the Shrine Building in Warsaw voiced opposition to the bureau’s implementation of a new policy this month that allows drivers to mark a third binary option beyond male and female.
Starting this month, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles has begun issuing driver’s licenses and identification cards with a non-binary option, designated by an “X,” in addition to “M” for male and “F” for female, according to published news reports earlier this week.
State Rep. Dave Wolkins brought up the issue during his introduction Friday.
He said it appears the policy was intended to accommodate about 20 Indiana residents who were born with both male and female anatomy. Other than that circumstance, the BMV would require approval from a physician.
“The initial reaction is pretty strong. We have a BMV (bill) coming up and there are about ten people who want to add an amendment on to stop this,” Wolkins said.
Wolkins said he opposes the policy because it’s part of the agenda pushed by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community.
State Rep. Curt Nisly, of Milford, also participating in the Third House, said he didn’t understand the need for it, especially if somebody has gender re-assignment surgery.
“It’s really kind of strange,” Nisly said.
Nisly added, “It’s not the problem with the letter, it’s the direction where it’s going.”
Wolkins said the new policy would cause difficulties for police when it comes to searching suspects and where to house inmates in the jail.
“There’s a lot of other things that could develop. We just don’t really need those problems. That’s just a personal opinion,” Wolkins said.
Wolkins said the change in policy pleases many of the same folks who are upset with lawmakers’ resistance to pass hate crimes legislation. Such legislation that would include a list of protected classes will likely not pass this year, he said.
By adding a third option, Indiana joins a small handful of states that have expanded the choices on driver’s licenses.
In other matters, Wolkins, Nisly and State Sen. Ryan Mishler were asked about their opinion on Senate Bill 613, which would broaden the scope of payday loan operations and lead to higher interest rates in some cases.
The bill passed the Senate and how awaits action in the house.
Nisly said he’s “very much opposed” to the legislation because it would permit interest rates far above the 70 percent level that is considered a felony under loanshark laws in the state.
Wolkins said he was unsure where he stands on the issue so far. He said he has supported similar bills in the past.
Mishler, who voted in support of the bill in the Senate, did not comment.