Chicago, IL — Democratic candidate for Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias announced today that he wants the state to ensure that transgender and non-binary Illinoisans are able to access gender-neutral markers on their driver’s licenses as soon as possible.
In 2019, Illinois legislators approved a bill, giving residents a gender-neutral option on their identity documents. However, those Illinois residents wanting gender-neutral markers on their driver’s license or state ID card have to wait until 2024 when the state ends its contract with IDEMIA, the vendor that won a state contract to implement REAL IDs.
“The fact that a private company is receiving taxpayer money to administer our state’s REAL ID program and is ‘unable’ to provide a simple identity-designation change that is so important for the safety and security of the transgender and non-binary community is simply unacceptable,” said Giannoulias. “Every Illinois resident should have the right to obtain an official document that reflects and affirms who they are, and they should not have to wait five years after this law was approved to get it.”
The Secretary of State entered into a contract with IDEMIA in 2018 to administer the REAL ID program, lasting through 2024. IDEMIA has claimed that it is unable to add a gender-neutral marker – an “X” instead of “M” or “F” – to REAL IDs administered by the Secretary of State until the end of the current contract in 2024.
For the transgender and non-binary communities, having the proper gender marker on an identification is a matter of safety. In 2015, the National Center for Transgender Equality reported that 34 percent of trans and non-binary Illinoisans reported harassment when their gender identity didn’t match the gender on their identification.
More than 20 states have passed legislation allowing for gender-neutral options on state-issued IDs and driver’s licenses. Last week, New York announced that it would allow residents to choose an “X” as their gender marker on their state-issued IDs, beginning June 24.
Giannoulias vowed to closely review the current contract in place with the Secretary of State’s office, including examining what early termination provisions are in place or what contract amendments could be applied.
Giannoulias made the announcement at the beginning of Pride Month, adding that he would continue to fight for equality for members of the LGBTQ+ communities across the state.
Shortly after taking office as State Treasurer in 2007, Giannoulias changed office policy to allow office employees in same-sex domestic partnerships to receive the same health benefits as married employees and their dependents. At the time, the Treasurer’s Office had been the only constitutional office not to give health benefits to same-sex partners of state workers.
In 2010, the Treasurer’s Office became the first state constitutional office in Illinois to establish that LGBTQ+ employees in domestic partnerships would have all the same rights and benefits as married employees, including unpaid time off to care for a sick partner or relative or for the birth or adoption of a child.