It’s not unusual at all for us to have to debunk nonsense from Florida. According to officials, EVs won’t work in the winter. Driving one during a hurricane evacuation would get you stranded. Also, they’re all supposedly firebombs if flooded (this one is partially true, but only for Teslas). We’re no strangers to FUD, but it’s usually mostly harmless. But, state officials have now found a way to mess things up for drivers of ICE and electric cars.
The Dumb Policy Change
It seems like it was just yesterday that social conservatives like Ron DeSantis were telling us that the whole campaign against the LGBT community was strictly for the children. But, now the goalposts have moved and the State of Florida is going after transgender people of all ages with a new driver’s license policy. In the past, it was possible for a transgender person to request a gender marker change on their IDs to match the new gender role they had adopted, but a new policy considers this to be fraudulent activity.
While I’ve seen people falling all over themselves to defend this new policy, none of it really checks out. Things like emergency medical care don’t depend on one’s sex, for example. While most people angry about transgender people are mad about male-to-female transgender people, they forget that forcing transgender men (born female, transitioned to male) end up looking like totally normal men, but a little on the short side.
So, they are unwittingly trying to make people with a full beard use the women’s room with their daughters.
And, really, this ridiculous bathroom debate is 99% of what this is about. The letter asserts that allowing ID gender changes “can frustrate the state’s ability to enforce its laws”, and the only law that’s really affected by IDs is access to facilities like bathrooms. The more informed conservatives know that a bathroom ban is not going to result in good outcomes (ex bearded trans men), and are really looking for an excuse to heap official persecution on a community they’re trying to scapegoat (a common authoritarian political tactic).
How They’ve Shot All Drivers and Non-Drivers In The Foot
Normally, we don’t cover general politics, LGBT issues, and other such things here, but in this case, the consequences are starting to spill over into transportation policy, so it’s worth warning readers about. Why? Because everyone with a Florida ID or driver’s license now risks trouble with access other non-car forms of transportation, along with access to federal properties.
The Real ID act of 2005 (and subsequent amendments) sets standards for state IDs. A state can issue a non-compliant ID or license if they so choose, but IDs that don’t meet the requirements cannot be used to board planes (or even get through security), access federal buildings, or get onto military bases. People with a non-compliant ID must instead use a passport, passport card, military ID, or some other ID that the federal government trusts, which can be a pain in the ass if you wouldn’t have otherwise gotten a passport.
The act lists several things that must appear on a state ID, with verification requirements for several of them:
(1) The person’s full legal name.
(2) The person’s date of birth.
(3) The person’s gender.
(4) The person’s driver’s license or identification card number.
(5) A digital photograph of the person.
(6) The person’s address of principle residence.
(7) The person’s signature.
(8) Physical security features designed to prevent tampering,
counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes.
(9) A common machine-readable technology, with defined minimum
The problem in this case is #3, gender. The Real ID Act requires gender, and not sex. The term is not defined, which left Florida thinking that they could substitute their simplistic and pseudoscientific idea of “innate and immutable biological and genetic characteristics”. But, the Department of Homeland Security can assert that Florida is no longer following the law because DHS considers gender to be the roles one lives in life and not what’s between their legs (or used to be).
Enforcement of Real ID Act requirements has been postponed again for many official uses until 2025 to give states a chance to make sure most people have a compliant license in hand, but that effort requires that the state be able to issue compliant IDs between now and the new deadline. If DHS determines that Florida’s IDs are no longer compliant, then the state could be put in a position where nobody’s IDs are acceptable to board a plane in 2025 (assuming Biden doesn’t want to play hardball and move the deadline back up).
Ironically, it was Republicans who passed this law after 9/11 over Democratic Party objections, and then spent a lot of time fighting the states that initially boycotted it. It took the better part of two decades to get all 50 states and all territories on board, but it eventually did happen.
Unless Republicans can win the election and get DHS to reverse a Biden non-compliance determination and give Florida another two-year extension, they could leave themselves having to explain the problem to voters, who aren’t going to be as amused as their elected politicians are with this, especially when these policies have proven to be electoral losers.
Florida Should Be Focusing On Improving Transportation, Not Tilting At the Transgender Windmill
I’m not one of those people who thinks that anti-LGBT people aren’t allowed to have an opinion I disagree with. Everyone has a right to their beliefs, their ideas on things like gender and sex, and to make their own personal choices on these things. I vehemently disagree with the idea that religions should even be forced to recognize or perform gay marriages (they’ve never even been forced to recognize interracial marriages, BTW).
People even have a right to be a Neo-Nazi, a member of the KKK, and many other despicable things. I think it’s idiotic and evil, but it’s their right. More importantly, though, it’s not my problem when they go make fools of themselves wearing bed sheets or goose stepping in the street.
The most annoying thing about policies like this and related bills in the Florida legislature is that they waste valuable time and state resources that could be used to reduce traffic deaths, open up more transportation options, and maybe even help address pollution and climate change. Instead, red states waste their time and taxpayer money going after imaginary monsters like Don Quixote.
When people do this on their own time and dime (again, it’s their right so long as they don’t get violent), it’s silly and maybe annoying. People need to have thicker skin. But, when they waste public resources on these pointless distractions while there are still real problems that need to be solved, they make it everybody’s problem.
Featured image: Don Quixote Illustration by Gustave Dore VII, 1863 (Public Domain).
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