(KMSP) - The gender box on our driver's license is something many of us take for granted, but for one Minnesotan, this is the day they've been waiting for.
In their 27 years, Medicine Lake volunteer firefighter Minnesota J. Zappa has identified as both a man and a woman, but lately Zappa feels more in-between. Now, Zappa's driver's license will reflect that.
"I guess you could say I'm a shade of grey in a world of black and white," Zappa said.
Zappa was assigned male at birth, a fact that is shown in the gender section on an old driver's license.
But a few years ago, they made the decision to identify as female, which was indicated as such on their license.
Now, when Zappa applied for a new Minnesota license, the temporary one says "non-binary" under sex for the first time.
"It was just frustrating because most recently I had an F on it and I would show it to someone, but they would say, 'you are dressed like a man,' or 'you have a deep voice,' or 'we don't think this is accurate.' They would say 'this isn't your license," Zappa said.
The Department of Public Safety's Driver and Vehicle Services Division says as part of its new REAL ID compliant driver's license system, drivers can chose from three options - male, female and non-binary.
"It was a business decision to offer a third option to better serve all Minnesotans."
The division says licenses will have either an M, F or X in the gender section.
"I feel good. I know a few other people have accomplished this in a few other states. It started on the west coast a few years ago, and more and more people are recognizing that non-binary people exist and we ought to be legally recognized," Zappa said.
Zappa knows having an "X" may prompt more questions from people, but Zappa also hopes it inspires other non-binary transgender people to do the same.
"I think this is one more step in recognizing trans people to be who they are and that we're legitimate and that we're out here so it's good," Zappa said.
According to Outfront Minnesota, Minnesota follows Oregon and Washington, D.C. in offering the third gender option. California is set to make the change next year.
Statement from the Driver and Vehicle Services division:
A new application was created for the new driver's license system, launching today. The new application has three options: male, female and non-binary. Gender identification is a self-descriptor like eye color, height, and weight. Licenses will have either an M, F or X noted in the gender section.
This change was made during the planning for the new driver's license system. It was a business decision to offer a third option to better serve all Minnesotans. In addition, other states recognize this designation and the federal government allows it under REAL ID.