Oregon becomes first US state to issue nonbinary gender on IDs

To be frank, I’m not here to do complete essays on the history of document based authentication. Photo IDs are relatively recent but then again so is anything like general acceptance outside limited circles that sex and gender are not linked.

There are relatively standard protocols taught to people for whom checking ID is part of their job and that includes verifying that other information on the ID aligns. Gender started being put on photo ID cards specifically to deal with the fact that early high speed replicators didnt include enough detail and allowed for near appearance ID card swapping or sharing between the sexes.

Whether or not a majority of women are wearing any makeup when they get their govt photo ID done is not really relevant to the failure case described. Considering that the makeup styles prevalent among women of nearly all cultures over the last X-hundred years tend to emphasize the more general feminine structure of the face, a person in full feminine makeup is not going to look sex or gender neutral enough to align with an ID that specifies what appears to be a different sex.

Quite relevant and generally backed up by sex differences in physiology. Part of why speech recognition technology achieves very high success rates as well.


Now that photos are much more detailed (if that was even a good reason to include gender in the first place) it isn’t necessary or helpful in matching an ID with an individual. There’s no reason to include it on picture IDs.


There certainly are ways to include more authenticators to IDs and leave out the sex of the person that would make matching more accurate but they all tend to increase infrastructure costs or upset both the believers in the privacy fairy and the Gubbmint Black Helicopter Defense Irregulars, Local 2654.

Bear in mind also that the idea of including multiple identifiers such as photo, name, address, sex, date of birth are also designed for cross referencing when authenticating the person to the ID.

As a side note, I wonder if this decision will create any issues with the agreement between states to respect government ID issued by other states? I can certainly see how a highway patrol, LLEO or clerk in another state is going to be befuddled by these Oregon IDs with an X.



I’ve never had my ID examined in any other way than another person looking at my face and then the card. Gender isn’t required or helpful in this comparison. The sex of a person is irrelevant, as there is no way to authenticate this that isn’t totally invasive.[quote=“Israel_B, post:23, topic:102942”]
Bear in mind also that the idea of including multiple identifiers such as photo, name, address, sex, date of birth are also designed for cross referencing when authenticating the person to the ID.

Yes, and we can still cross refrence without sex.

Why would they be?


(quoting myself to keep context)

I dont see it as unlikely that word of this wont spread quickly. Probably it will take a while before the relatively few Oregonians with an X on their card do not have trouble when presenting their ID out of state.

You’ve never been asked to confirm your DoB or address by someone checking your ID?

Generally it isnt required to do an invasive authentication. The small percentage of people for whom their identified gender does not align with their sex or how they physically appear/present themselves is an edge case, a statistical blip (1). The information is there specifically to prevent obvious misuse by Steve Jones of Mary Jones’s ID card.

  1. Considering the estimate of 20,000 potential persons in Oregon out of a population of 4.029M, that comes to barely half of one percent of the state population.
1 Like

We’ve heard about it, why wouldnt they? ID’ s are part of their job.

[quote=“Israel_B, post:26, topic:102942”]
You’ve never been asked to confirm your DoB or address by someone checking your ID?[/quote]

No, it’s on the card. I’ve certainly never been asked to confirm my sex.

If authentication isn’t required, why bother at all?

Gender is not a fixed thing with rules, some men have long hair, wear make up, some women wear short hair and no make up and “men’s” clothing.

There is nothing stopping a person of either sex from trying to impersonate someone regardless of gender or sex. Of all the information on ID cards, sex is the least useful in indentification.


Exactly! Especially on ID. With today’s identification methods, gender is perhaps the least useful.


Because probably out of the large number of people in the US for whom checking ID is part of their job, how many are going to read this news? I’m sure that other states will issue memos and so on, but changes to law like this, news may not spread quickly.

Actually, it is. In my storage I’ve got some books on the history of authentication documents relative to physical security work thats been part of my responsibility in the past. This bit of data precedes photo IDs on official IDs.

Note also, identification is different from authentication. Here we identify by user IDs but there is no way for us to authenticate each other. I assume that the person using the ID Magdalene is one person, that no one else has the password for that account but I have no way to authenticate the replies from this account. Photo IDs are an authenticator more than an identifier.

Sorry to be pedantic, this is the kind of knowledge that lets me put food on my family table.


Quite correct. Using gender for ID dates back to the old days when gender was consider binary. We’ve learned a thing or two since then. Well, some of us. Some people long for the “good old days,” when gender roles were binary and very strict, which helped keep one binary gender under the thumb of the other binary gender.


I doubt it.

That is was once used is again irrelevant. We have accurate photos now, it is no longer necessary.

If I am using a state-issued ID card, I’ve been issued a unique number along with that card with my picture on it which is far more useful in indentification and authentication than my genetalia or which gender I present.

Again, the fact that we used to use sex and gender as authenticators doesn’t change the fact that they are no longer useful.


OK well I’ve addressed all the points you brought up already so there is little left to say. Have a good one!

1 Like

This is a start, certainly. The birth certificate really needs a third ticky-box as well. Having a class for intersexed babies could stave off some avoidable trauma, and buy some time from genital mutalation surgery.

The numbers are small, but the impact is large.


It looks like this is heading towards a situation where people just stop separating everyone by gender. That sounds like a fairly egalitarian idea. Probably in 95% of situations that would turn out to be a good thing. Or at least worth trying.


You too. Enjoy your weekend.


Wouldn’t the nitwit clerks eventually learn that the gender field is user specified?


Absolutely. Of course it goes without saying it made things difficult for non-binary people.


I highlighted what i consider the key word there. You keep bringing up history as if that was an argument for, rather than an argument against. We’ve got better pictures now, and even technology to put chips on there to keep bunches more information. But having a single initial there, and if we keep with history there will be only two choices, isn’t significant any more.

More generally i’m imagining you checking IDs and telling the subject of your check “Well, you look kinda like the picture, and you recited to me the date on here that you could have memorized before you handed it to me, but i’m not seeing enough a bulge down there. I suspect that you’re secretly your sister because we apparently live in a Shakespeare comedy where that happens alot.”


I highlighted what I consider the key word there.

Lets not let this devolve any further into personal speculation shall we?

Anyway, I’ve said all I wanted to say on this.

1 Like

Maybe you should then explain more clearly exactly what these experts who do this every day do with that M or F. Not what it says in your extensive historical library, which sounds very impressive, but what you would do with that information.

Someone approaches you and presents an ID. They are dressed as a woman, whatever that means. Their picture matches their appearance. The sex on the ID says M.

How is that used to complete the authentication?