Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Change Does Begin From the Bottom Up
grass-roots: adjective. Pertaining to, or involving the common people, esp. as contrasted with or separable from an elite.
Change happens from the bottom up. That is the heart of a grassroots movement, change, initiated by the Average Joe (or Jane!). The catalyst to these grassroots-type movements often stem from individuals in society who find themselves hitting walls of bureaucracy and confusing policies that those who need to administrate them are often unsure about as well.
The recent Ohio BMV “Declaration of Gender Change” policy change reflects exactly this type of grassroots movement. Over the years, many Transgender Ohioans have had issues changing the gender marker on their Ohio driver’s license. Sometimes, changing your gender marker depended on which BMV office you went to – Conservative county offices might give you the run around, versus, visiting an office in a more liberal county, one might not run into any issue.
For several years, we’ve said that it’s a hit-and-miss kind thing when it comes to the ease of changing that ever important gender marker. Really, our livelihood depends on it. State issued IDs are required for employment, to drive, to open a bank account, to cash a check, to get a post office box, traveling, and so on. For many, an identification card with the correct name and gender marker often became an issue of safety.
In mid 2007, a transgender woman from North-West Ohio encountered issues with changing her gender marker on her Ohio driver’s license. Since then, she worked to create a professional relationship with the administrators at the Ohio BMV to create an open dialogue which allowed an honest exchange of information and an opportunity to provide education about Transgender people to the administrators. Remember the meaning of Grassroots?
Over the last few years, your statewide Ohio GLBT grassroots organizations, TransOhio and Equality Ohio, have worked alongside this Average Jane, longtime advocate Meral Crane and the administrators at the Ohio BMV to create a fair and accessible statewide policy managing gender marker changes on Ohio driver’s licenses.
Finally, this has come to fruition.
Effective immediately, a statewide policy – “Declaration of Gender Change” – has been put into effect by the Ohio BMV.
How this process works:
Transgender Ohioans need to phone the main office of the Ohio BMV (located in Columbus) to request the “Declaration of Gender Change” form. The main office number is: 1-614-752-7500.
(This form is not yet available online, and will not be until it is officially assigned a form identification number by the Ohio BMV.)
The “Declaration of Gender Change” form will be mailed to the requester.
Licensed Physicians, Psychologists and Therapists are the only one’s allowed to sign this form.
(To be qualified, the medical professional must attest that the transition is being conducted in accordance with the guidelines set forth in the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s (WPATH) Standards of Care, formally known as the Henry Benjamin Standards of Care).
The individual requesting the gender marker change will need to have their physician, psychologist or therapist complete and sign the “Declaration of Gender Change” form.
Completed forms should be mailed or faxed to:
Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles
Attn: License Control
P.O. Box 16784
Columbus, Ohio 43216-6784
**Note: Don’t forget to make a copy of the paperwork for your records.
Turn-around and processing time is 7-10 business days. The Ohio BMV will notify the applicant in writing that their information has been changed.
The individual will then be able to take that written notification to their local BMV office to get their new license issued. The old license must be surrendered.
BMV fees DO APPLY to the issuance of your new Ohio Driver’s License or state issued ID card.
There are a few additional points of information on the “Declaration of Gender Change” form that we feel are important to point out:
If gender identification is marked as transitional, a new form must be submitted for each driver’s license/ID renewal until gender identification is complete. If the form is not submitted at renewal, the gender marker will revert back to the original gender.
Each individual is limited to changing their gender back to the original gender on their driver’s license or ID card one (1) time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I reside in Ohio, but my doctors and therapist are out of state. Can they sign the “Declaration of Gender Change” form?
A: Yes. Any licensed physician/psychologist/therapist is qualified to sign the “Declaration of Gender Change” form as long as they are in accordance with the guidelines set forth in the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s (WPATH) Standards of Care.
Q: Does my physician/psychologist/therapist need to be a member of WPATH?
A: No. Any licensed physician/psychologist/therapist is qualified to sign the “Declaration of Gender Change” form as long as they are in accordance with the guidelines set forth in the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s (WPATH) Standards of Care. Membership to WPATH is NOT a requirement for your physician/psychologist/therapist.
Q: Do I need to have any surgery to have my gender marker changed on my Ohio driver’s license?
A: No. The Ohio BMV no longer requires a letter from your surgeon stating you’ve had SRS.
Q: Is my information public information?
A: No. All records of the Ohio Department of Public Safety or Bureau of Motor Vehicles relating to the physical or mental condition of any person are confidential and are not open to public record.
Q: Can my gender marker be changed if I haven’t had a court ordered name change yet?
A: Yes. You can change your gender marker even if your name has not been changed.
**Note: TransOhio does recommend making sure that if you’ve not had your name changed through the Probate Court, that you do so as soon as you’re able to, so that your name AND gender reflect correctly on your new driver’s license.
Q: I heard that there is a new format for Ohio driver’s license. Are driver’s licenses being issued with a pink background for women, and a blue background for men?
A: There is a new format for the Ohio driver’s license. The background color is pink for all driver’s licenses.
If you have additional questions about the “Declaration of Gender Change” form, please contact TransOhio at TransOhio@gmail.com, or call us at 614-441-8167.
Remember, change does happen from the ground up.
These are the types of changes that can happen when individuals get involved and become part of the movement. Get involved with your statewide organizations, TransOhio and Equality Ohio, we are here, working for you. Working so that all Ohioans feel at home in Ohio.
For more information about TransOhio, visit them at http://www.transohio.org/, or Equality Ohio, http://www.equalityohio.org/.
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