Respect Diversity + Inclusion

Here are the states where you can (and cannot) change your gender designation on official documents

Nearly half of states allow residents to select an “X” gender designation for their driver’s licenses.
A passport belonging to Dana Zzyym, who prefers a gender-neutral pronoun, rests on a table, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, in Fort Collins, Colo. (Thomas Peipert/Associated Press)

Story at a glance


  • New York in June will join 21 other states and Washington, D.C., in allowing residents to select a gender-neutral “X” gender marker on their driver’s licenses, birth certificates or other identification documents.

  • More than 2 million U.S. adults identify as nonbinary or transgender, according to research from the Williams Institute.

  • Some states are more accepting of those identities than others.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D) office last week announced that, beginning this summer, state residents will be able to select a gender-neutral “X” gender marker on their driver’s licenses, birth certificates or other identification documents, becoming the latest in a growing number of states working to remove certain barriers for the nonbinary, transgender and gender-nonconforming people who live there.

“Every person, regardless of their gender identity or expression, deserves to have an identity document that reflects who they are,” Hochul said last week in a news release. The policy change represents a victory in the state’s “fight to help ensure equality and respect for the LGBTQ+ community,” Hochul said.

While data on the state’s nonbinary population is sparse, a 2016 New York Department of Health report found that just under 1 percent of residents identify as transgender. In the U.S., an estimated 1.4 million adults identify as transgender and 1.2 million as nonbinary, according to research from the Williams Institute, a public policy think tank focused on issues related to gender identity and sexual orientation.


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Nearly half of U.S. states allow residents to select an “X” gender designation for their driver’s licenses. In 16 states and Washington, D.C., residents may amend their birth certificates using a gender-neutral gender marker, according to data from Movement Advancement Project (MAP), an LGBTQ+ think tank.

States allowing residents to select an “X” gender marker on their driver’s licenses

  1. Arkansas
  2. California
  3. Colorado
  4. Connecticut
  5. District of Columbia
  6. Hawaii
  7. Maine
  8. Maryland
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Michigan
  11. Minnesota
  12. Nevada
  13. New Hampshire
  14. New Jersey
  15. New Mexico
  16. New York
  17. Oregon
  18. Pennsylvania
  19. Rhode Island
  20. Vermont
  21. Virginia
  22. Washington

States allowing residents to select an “X” gender marker on their birth certificates

  1. California
  2. Colorado
  3. Connecticut
  4. District of Columbia
  5. Illinois
  6. Maine
  7. Michigan
  8. Nevada
  9. New Jersey
  10. New Mexico
  11. New York
  12. Ohio
  13. Oregon
  14. Rhode Island
  15. Utah
  16. Vermont
  17. Washington

The U.S. more broadly has also adopted changes that make it easier for nonbinary or transgender people to correct their IDs. In October, the State Department issued the first U.S. passport with an “X” gender designation.

The department last month announced the option would be made widely available beginning April 11, although the “X” gender marker for expedited or urgent travel service, passport cards, emergency passports or Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBAs) won’t be available until late 2023.

A report published last month by the Williams Institute found that an estimated 16,700 nonbinary LGBTQ+ Americans are expected to request passports with an “X” gender designation this year.

Even so, those who hold a gender-neutral passport may still possess driver’s licenses or other state-issued identification documents that misgender them, depending on where they live. 

In eight states and two territories, proof of gender-affirming surgery, a court order or an amended birth certificate is required to change the gender marker on a driver’s license, according to MAP. A gender-neutral option is unavailable.

Proof of gender-affirming surgery is required by 13 states and Guam in order to change the gender marker on a birth certificate.

Such laws have been challenged in places like Alabama and Montana, the latter of which issued an emergency rule last week to prevent transgender residents from altering their birth certificates, stating that sex is “an immutable genetic fact” that cannot be changed, even with surgery. Gender, state health officials argued, is merely a social “construct.”

In four states, residents may not alter their gender designation on official documents at all. Last month, Oklahoma became the first state to outright ban the use of an “X” gender marker on state-issued birth certificates.

States requiring proof of surgery, court order or altered birth certificate to change gender marker on driver’s licenses

  1. Georgia
  2. Guam (U.S. Territory)
  3. Iowa
  4. Kentucky
  5. Louisiana
  6. Northern Mariana Islands (U.S. Territory)
  7. South Carolina
  8. Tennessee
  9. Texas

States requiring proof of surgery, court order or altered birth certificate to change gender marker on birth certificates

  1. Alabama
  2. Arizona
  3. Arkansas
  4. Georgia
  5. Guam (U.S. Territory)
  6. Iowa
  7. Kentucky
  8. Louisiana
  9. Missouri
  10. Nebraska
  11. New Hampshire
  12. North Carolina
  13. North Dakota
  14. Wisconsin

States barring residents from amending their gender designation on official documents

  1. Montana
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Tennessee
  4. West Virginia

States where “X” gender marker on birth certificates is legally banned

  1. Oklahoma