Went to get a new ID, decided to change my gender marker that day. Michigan makes it that easy!
Getting a New Michigan ID
In Michigan, you need a current, valid driver’s license or state ID to apply for a marriage license. I’m not a driver due to anxiety and overstimulation. So, I’ve never held a driver’s license. Normally, I use my passport card as my ID when it’s needed. (Even though about half the people checking IDs look at the passport card like they don’t know how to read it. I used to be so embarrassed by it that I never went out drinking in public.)
The morning I woke up ready to apply for my marriage license, I realized I needed a state ID to prove my residency. With my partner living in the UK and her days left in the States numbered, I panicked that we’d run out of time. I had to wait for my new ID to come in before we could apply for the license. I spent approximately 3 hours in freeze mode–crying about half the time–before making my SOS appointment for the upcoming Monday.
Changing my Gender Marker in Michigan
The morning of the appointment, I looked up all the documents I needed. I pre-filled out my ID application, requiring basic information like name, address, gender, etc. But the gender tickboxes included: Male, Female, or Non-binary. My heart fluttered. I quickly took to Google to figure out what I needed to do to tick the box I wanted.
The answer? Just tick the box you want. To change your ID’s gender marker in Michigan, you just tick the box and sign a document. Since November 2021, the Mitten is now one of 20 states that allow an ID gender marker change without medical transition documentation. This means that transgender and non-binary people in Michigan can change the gender marker on their ID without gender-affirming surgeries or hormone replacement therapies (like estrogen and testosterone).
Essentially, trans people don’t have to prove they are trans to have IDs that reflect their gender. As HRT and surgeries are costly, it’s not always accessible for trans people. Plus, not every trans person even wants hormones or surgery. This new policy allows trans residents in Michigan to access IDs that reflect their gender without jumping through hoops. Yay Michigan!
Getting my Gender X ID
I had no idea that changing my gender marker was in the cards for me. I remember hearing about the possibility of getting an “X” marker on passports last year. But my passport doesn’t expire until 2026, and I have no intention of paying over $100 any earlier than I have to. Plus, I expected some kind of documentation that I don’t yet have. (Whether that be surgery, HRT, letters from a therapist, I’m not sure. I still don’t know. It wasn’t important yet.)
My roommate, her girlfriend, and my partner drop me off at the office at my appointment time and drive off to the nearest Starbucks. The entry checkpoint has me fill out paperwork again, despite my pre-application code online. The paper version is just as thrilling and definitely scarier. I put an “X” in the non-binary box.
I stand in line with six people in front of me. Plenty of time to contemplate my imposter syndrome. The only downside to the ease of changing my gender marker is that there really is no proof of being non-binary other than my word. Of course, that is enough. But standing in this line, waiting for the person at the other end to read my application and make their own judgment–it certainly feels like I need more proof than a checkbox and signature.
How non-binary do I look today? I wear navy shorts with an approximate 5″ inseam. Seems like a solidly ambiguous length. They’re navy and high-waisted. But the high-waist works simply to cover my waist-to-hip difference when paired with a shirt cropped just above the hips. Written in Budwiser font, my gray cutoff tee read “Michigan.” This is the outfit I plan to wear to a Detroit Tigers’ game later that day. (Before we show up at the stadium and realize the game is actually next Monday.)
The line shrinks to four ahead when I find a new fear to fret over: The pitch of my voice. Sometimes I think my gender could be ambiguous if I simply refuse to talk. But if my appearance did make people question my gender, the game is over once I speak. Clocked right away.
I once read a post that described their ideal gender transition goal as “instead of people thinking I’m a girl who wants to be a boy, they think I’m a boy who wants to be a girl.” That resonates a lot. So the fact my voice always signals AFAB (assigned female at birth) is a huge bummer. To make matters worse, my voice automatically jumps three octaves when talking to strangers. (You know, the customer-service default voice.)
I hand over all my documents when my turn comes, including my form with the non-binary checkbox. The woman behind the counter enters information into her computer, prints off a summary, and has me check it over to make sure everything is correct. The gender marker on her summary reads: F.
Welp, I think. I tried. Maybe next time. I hold the summary in my hand three seconds longer than it takes to know if all the info is accurate or not. And thankfully, those three seconds give me a moment to reassess. I squeak up to the woman at the desk. “Actually, can I change my gender marker to the X?” She says, “of course,” and “just let me print off the form.” When she passes it to me, I sign it.
Life as Sex X
I’ve been a Gender-X ID-holder for over six months now. Though day-to-day life is obviously no different, holding an ID that literally says my gender is neither male nor female certainly feels close to the “proof” of gender identity I’ve been aching for.
I’ve known for a while now that my transition journey will include top surgery. Though not accessible now for financial reasons, I am currently saving up for it. Gender-affirming surgery is in my 5-year plan for sure. What I didn’t expect was an ID to affirm my gender. At least not until 2026 when I looked into getting a new passport. But even then, I’m not sure I want that for fear it will cause travel complications.
I sent the picture of my new ID to my sister when it came in the mail. “Awesome!!” She said. “Must be very cool to have you look like you on there too.” And she was right. My last photo ID came from 2016, a version of myself with very long hair and eyeliner. That person looked so different from me that a resort worker in the Dominican Republic literally did not believe I was the person in my passport photo last March.
And now? The person in the picture actually looks like me. And it has the gender identity marker to match.
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4 thoughts on “Changing my Gender Marker in Michigan”
LOVE THIS!! So glad this is an option.
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Congrats! So glad to see more inclusive ID policies spreading across the US.
Thank you! It’s definitely exciting to see!