Florida residents may not alter the gender marker on their licenses, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles said, and those who misrepresent their biological sex on a driver’s license will henceforth be guilty of fraud and subject to criminal penalties.

“The Term ‘gender’ … does not refer to a person’s internal sense of his or her gender role or identification, but has historically and commonly been understood as a synonym for ‘sex,’ which is determined by innate and immutable biological and genetic characteristics,” Robert Kynoch, the department’s deputy executive director, wrote in a letter sent to county tax collectors Friday. The letter was shared with The Daily Signal by the office of Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“Additionally, a [driver’s] license is an identification document and, as such, serves a critical role in assisting public and private entities in correctly establishing the identity of a person presenting the license,” the letter continues. “Permitting an individual to alter his or her license to reflect an internal sense of gender role or identity, which is neither immutable nor objectively verifiable, undermines the purpose of an identification record and can frustrate the state’s ability to enforce its laws.”

Misrepresenting one’s gender on a driver’s license constitutes fraud, the letter notes, and subjects offenders to both criminal and civil penalties, including cancellation, suspension, or revocation of the license.

The department also sent out a technical advisory on Friday, stating a patron’s gender on his or her driver’s license or identification card must be taken from a primary identification document. And on Tuesday, the department’s director of communications told The Daily Signal that the move is important to “enhance the security and reliability of Florida-issued licenses.”

“The department is charged with important statutory duties, to include issuance of Florida driver’s licenses and identification cards, and to issue replacement credentials under specific circumstances,” said Molly Best, director of communications for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

“Expanding the department’s authority to issue replacement licenses dependent on one’s internal sense of gender or sex identification is violative of the law and does not serve to enhance the security and reliability of Florida-issued licenses and identification cards,” she told The Daily Signal. “The security, reliability and accuracy of government-issued credentials is paramount.” 

In January 2023, department Executive Director Dave Kerner tasked senior department leadership with making sure that the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ policies, procedures, guidance, and advisories were consistent with both “statutory law” and the department’s authority.

This latest development is a result of that move, Best said. She noted that “the rescission pertains solely to replacement license requests” and that “no changes have been made to the process of establishing gender on a newly issued Florida credential, governed by [Section] 322.08, F.S.”

Leftist groups, such as the ACLU of Florida, responded to the decision with criticism.

“All transgender and non-binary people should have access to an accurate ID,” the ACLU of Florida said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday.

“Transgender Floridians can no longer change the listed gender on their [driver’s] licenses,” the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reported. “A state memo further says that someone ‘misrepresenting’ their gender, meaning not using their sex assigned at birth, constitutes ‘criminal and civil’ fraud.”

This article has been updated since initial publication.

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