In The People's Blog

I offered the following remarks on July 27 during a floor debate on An Act relative to gender identity on Massachusetts identification


This bill advances basic human dignity. The legislation’s intent is simple: It will allow gender representation on state documents and IDs to be as beautifully diverse as the people in our Commonwealth.

#1 This legislation will allow an individual to change their gender, including choosing a non-binary option, on driver’s licenses and other identification cards, codifying a practice adopted by the RMV. Kudos to the RMV.

#2 It provides for similar options regarding birth certificates

#3 And it directs the state to develop a plan for a non-binary option on all state forms and documents.

Massachusetts is not alone.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia allow an X designation on birth certificates. 

The designation X has emerged as the standard gender-neutral designation on state IDs and records, and is available on driver’s licenses in at least 22 states and the District of Columbia.

An X marker is also consistent with sex designation standards for internationally recognized IDs and passports as set by the International Civil Aviation Association. 

And the Biden Administration now allows individuals to self-identify their gender, including an X for people who identify as non-binary, on US passports.


People know what gender they are. They don’t need the state or a doctor’s note to tell them. Our current binary options are archaic, limited, overly restrictive, and have created a situation where the government is infringing on people’s civil right to self-identify. 

Non-binary gender markers allow non-binary, gender diverse, and transgender individuals to participate in society without having to misgender or misidentify themselves.

Studies have shown that having even one document that accurately reflects a person’s gender identity can improve mental health and reduce suicide attempts among transgender and non-binary people. 


Please let me extend my deep thanks to the Gentleman from Westport and the Senate Ways and Means Team who dug in mightily on this legislation. You are true allies.

This would not have been possible without the Senate President, whose steadfast leadership and vision guides all of us. Many know that this was originally Senate President Spilka’s bill, inspired by a brave constituent, which I have been honored to carry. And of course the Senate President’s team.

I also want to thank the many groups and individuals who have been part of this effort for the long haul. 

I particularly want to recognize

  • Transhealth, based in Northampton, which provides loving care and support to trans and gender-diverse individuals and families as they work with an affirming team to own their healthcare journey.
  • The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
  • Mass Equality
  • GLAD 
  • The Stonewall Center at UMass Amherst
  • The Legislature’s LGBTQ caucus of which I am thrilled to be a Senate member along with Senators Cyr and Brownsberger.
  • And I want to offer a huge shout-out and thanks to the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth, which has been a close ally and partner on so many fights for justice. Their advocacy led to an important addition to this bill – which now mandates education, outreach, and capacity building for – particularly – LGBTQ youth, so they can access the bill’s provisions.


I’ll close by saying the names El, Soph, Sammy – these are the names of young people which I have spoken on this floor over the years that this bill has been passed by our Senate. Today, their stories and calls to action – and those of their families and countless others – ring in this chamber.

We know that trans rights and lives are under attack across the nation. Today, let the Senate send a powerful message: not only are gender diverse people welcome in the Commonwealth, they are seen and affirmed by laws changed to meet and protect them. As they must.

I believe this will be the session where we see this bill become law and I am grateful to Representatives Mindy Domb and Marjorie Decker for their leadership.

I would be deeply grateful to my colleagues for a YES vote on this bill, and I request that when a vote be taken, that it be taken by a call of the YEAS and NAYS.

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