Historically, the State of Georgia has arbitrarily required that transgender residents undergo “irreversible surgery” in order to get their gender marker changed on state identification documents. This was the written policy as of October 2019. However, irreversible surgery IS NOT REQUIRED in order to change your gender marker on your Georgia Driver’s License or State ID, despite common knowledge being to the contrary. However, the way around this is slightly costly and requires obtaining a US Passport.

THE REAL ID ACT

The REAL ID Act is a counter-terrorism law designed to ensure that state Driver’s Licenses and Identification Documents comply with federal security standards. A compliant ID is required for your state identification to be accepted by the Transportation Security Administration for air travel. When this document was written, only Minnesota and Missouri are deemed non-compliant with the REAL ID Act. Why does this matter?

Title II of the Real ID act requires compliant states issue Driver’s Licenses and Identification Cards to individuals which bare a number of details about the document holder, INCLUDING their correct gender. This means, even in conservative states like Georgia, if they are REAL ID compliant, they should be required to issue documentation which properly aligns with your US Passport. This might sound bizarre, but it actually works.

However, unfortunately, Georgia does not yet allow residents to change the gender marker on their birth certificate without undergoing “irreversible surgery”. The REAL ID Act does not have compliance requirements for Birth Certificates.

CHANGING THE GENDER MARKER IN GEORGIA

STEPS TO CHANGING YOUR GENDER MARKER ON YOUR GEORGIA DRIVER’S LICENSE OR STATE ID:

  1. You must apply for a US Passport with an updated gender marker. In my experience, a limited validity passport (2 years) is sufficient in order to permanently alter your license with the DDS.
    • The Department of State has guidelines on how to apply for a gender marker change on your passport.
      • A physician’s letter is required saying that you have received or are in the process of receiving appropriate clinical treatment for transition.
        • THERE ARE NO GUIDELINES AS TO WHAT THIS MEANS. Depending on your relationship with your physician, simply healthily presenting as your correct gender could meet this requirement. There is no requirement as to what type of physician may write this letter. It must be an MD or DO, but it does not have to be a specialist or particular type of MD or DO.
      • If you are early in your transition, you may only qualify for a limited validity (2 year) passport. If you can, explain this to your physician and request they write successfully completed – again, there is no legal standard for what “completed” means. If they don’t feel comfortable doing this, that’s okay because A LIMITED VALIDITY PASSPORT IS PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE FOR THE PURPOSE OF CHANGING YOUR STATE ID.
      • Ideally, you can submit your name change order and physician’s letter at the same time.
      • YOU MUST APPLY FOR A NEW PASSPORT TO INITIATE GENDER MARKER CHANGE, NOT A RENEWAL OF AN OLD.
  2. Once you receive your US Passport, go to your local Department of Driver Services service center. Depending on a number of factors, you will either want a duplicate document (5$) or a free update with your corrected information (if you qualify).
    • Present your US Passport and (if applicable) name change order to the customer service representative. Explain that you request your gender marker be updated to match your federal documentation.
    • If you encounter resistance, stay firm, and explain that the REAL ID Act requires them to comply, otherwise they risk issuing you fraudulent identification. You can also cite the DDS’ own Secure ID policy, stating they must accept a passport for this purpose. The link to that policy is here.
    • If you are still denied an updated license, obtain the information of the manager / supervisor on duty at the DDS Service Center. File a complaint and Contact the DDS Contact Center for further assistance.

Example updated documents

Changing your Gender Marker in Georgia
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Naia Ōkami

Naia is most known for the internet meme "On all levels except physical, I am a wolf." She's been in the therianthropy community since she was twelve years old and she was featured on both LogoTV and MTV. Naia is also a public speaker on therianthropy & otherkin, disability advocacy, and transgender identity. 🐺

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