Removing barriers to transgender individuals’ ability to access the legal-name and gender-marker change processes has been a consistent mission of SLC’s Transgender Rights Initiative. We have ensured that Florida birth certificates can be amended without proof of sex reassignment surgery, and we also developed a first of its kind website, FloridaNameChange.org, to make the processes easier to navigate without an attorney. Recently, SLC worked with the Florida Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) to amend its policy for amending the gender marker on drivers licenses to make the process more accessible to the transgender community.

As a result of SLC’s advocacy, the DHSMV issued a new policy regarding gender-marker changes, allowing trans individuals to update the gender marker on their Florida license or ID using a letter from an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). As it became apparent that transgender individuals seeking amendments to their drivers’ licenses were not consistently being treated in an affirming manner, we also obtained an agreement that comprehensive sensitivity training would be provided to all of the DMV and Tax Collectors offices in Florida. 

SLC had been working with dozens of transgender individuals who were denied gender-marker amendments on their Florida driver’s licenses and IDs because their letter for gender-marker change was signed by an APRN rather than a physician. Many transgender individuals do not have access to a gender-affirming physician (M.D. or D.O.) and receive their gender-affirming healthcare from an APRN, as APRNs in Florida have strategically and intentionally sought to provide care in areas where rural, low-income, and/or vulnerable populations are historically left without access to high-quality medical care. As a result of strategic efforts by the Florida Association of Nurse Practitioners (FLANP), the 2020 Florida Legislature enacted a law that allows APRNs who are licensed to engage in Autonomous Practice to provide a signature anywhere that is otherwise required by law to be provided by a physician.  Fla. Stat., § 464.0123(3)(a)(5).

Having legal identification documents that reflect your authentic identity is critical to meaningful participation in society, including obtaining employment, housing, public benefits, as well as exercising the right to vote. We assist transgender individuals statewide in obtaining legal name and gender marker changes through our revolutionary online tool, FloridaNameChange.org, and through in-person name change clinics throughout the state. In doing this work, we have become aware of the many systemic obstacles and barriers that exist within the process of obtaining legal authenticity. We will continue to tackle and challenge these systemic barriers as we encounter them as we continue our mission of making legal authenticity accessible for all transgender Floridians.