Police chief weighs in on challenges surrounding gender option "X" for driver licenses, state IDs

Posted at 9:07 PM, Nov 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 21:07:27-05

FERNDALE (WXYZ) — You don't find many people eager to make a trip to a Secretary of State's office, but Carrick Copeland is now looking forward to going in order to change the gender designation on their driver's license to X for nonbinary.

"For me, it means that I don't feel like the label man or woman fully describes me," Copeland told 7 Action News. "I feel like I'm something else entirely and having this option is very meaningful to me."

Copeland, a program coordinator with SAGE Metro Detroit, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ older adults, joined Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson Wednesday to mark the first day Michigan residents can change their gender designation from male (M) or female (F) to nonbinary (X) on their driver's license or state identification.

But some in law enforcement said it won't be easy to implement the changes they need to make on their end all at once.

"We understand what the Secretary of State is attempting to do, but we're concerned over, first of all, the lack of time to be able to implement this procedure," Warren Police Chief William Dwyer said.

Dwyer along with Robert Stevenson, executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, are concerned about how fast law enforcement agencies across the state will be able to fully implement the designation for nonbinary and the changes that come with it.

"If it's a simple traffic stop, we can deal with that, but it goes further than that," Dwyer said. "How are you going to house prisoners? How are you going to search these prisoners? Those are issues that will be addressed, but it's going to take time. It's not going to happen overnight.

"Let's look at the possibility of lawsuits, the liability issues that are here," he said. "This has got to be carefully implemented and it's going to take time to make sure that we follow the law, which we always do. We don't want to make any mistakes."