The ACLU of Arkansas has initiated a lawsuit against the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) on behalf of five plaintiffs, contesting a recent emergency rule that restricts transgender and nonbinary individuals' ability to self-identify their gender on driver’s licenses. The lawsuit argues that the emergency rule was implemented without proper justification or adherence to procedural requirements, such as a 30-day public notice and comment period.

The complaint highlights that the DFA's sudden policy shift, which eliminated the option for individuals to self-select their gender marker and abolished the "X" marker option, contradicts more than a decade of inclusive practices. This change has left many Arkansans without driver’s licenses accurately reflecting their gender identity, leading to psychological distress and exposing them to discrimination and violence.

The legal action seeks a declaratory judgment of the emergency rule's invalidity and injunctions to halt its enforcement, reverting to the previous inclusive policy. It argues that the rule disregards medical consensus on gender dysphoria treatment, violates individuals' privacy, and undermines the safety and well-being of transgender, nonbinary, and intersex people.

The ACLU of Arkansas aims to hold agencies accountable for impinging on Arkansans' rights and uphold values of equality and non-discrimination. The lawsuit reflects their commitment to fighting for the rights and dignity of all individuals in the state.

Attorney(s)

John C. Williams, Sarah Everett

Date filed

April 30, 2024

Court

Division 11 Sixth Judicial Circuit

Judge

Hon. Patricia James

Status

Victory!

Brandyn Gallagher (they/them)

Meet Brandyn, a plaintiff in Gallagher v. Arkansas DFA.

Nonbinary Arkansan wearing They/Them pin on blue t-shirt standing in front of red brick background

“Forcing me to choose between falsely claiming a biological sex that isn't true or risking my job is unjust. The emergency rule puts me in a no-win situation, impacting both my livelihood and my wellbeing.”

Brandyn (they/them) is a nonbinary person who has undergone hormone treatment since 2013, including testosterone and estrogen, to address health issues. They work as a truck driver and obtained a CDL with the gender marker “X” in 2019. The emergency rule has jeopardized their job security and subjected them to increased stress.

Lydia Nelson (they/them)

Meet Lydia, a plaintiff in Gallagher v. Arkansas DFA.

A smiling nonbinary Arkansan with short brown hear wearing a black striped button-down shirt and black glasses in front of a painting of a pride progress flag.

Lydia (they/them), a nonbinary person, relies on a state-issued ID that previously listed their gender as “X.” However, the emergency rule has left them with the choice of either obtaining an ID that misrepresents their identity or going without essential documentation.

“Being forced to choose between a false representation of my identity and not having proper identification infringes on my ability to participate fully in society. The emergency rule perpetuates harm and erasure of nonbinary Arkansans like me.”

 

Haley Prentice (she/her)

Meet Haley, a plaintiff in Gallagher v. Arkansas DFA.

A trans middle-aged female with light brown hair, wearing a black long-sleeved turtleneck dress standing in front of a wooden door with a lamp in the background.

Haley (she/her), a transgender woman, has taken steps in her transition, including hormone replacement therapy and legal name change. Despite these efforts, she faces resistance in changing her gender marker on her driver’s license due to the emergency rule, impacting her safety and wellbeing.

“Being denied the ability to update my gender marker disregards my identity and puts me at risk of discrimination and harm. The emergency rule denies me the basic dignity of being recognized for who I am.”

 

JaVon Hansen (he/him)

Meet JaVon, a plaintiff in Gallagher v. Arkansas DFA.

Trans male with short dark hair wearing a burgundy button-down shirt, a bowtie, and an Apple watch.

JaVon (he/him) is a transgender man who legally changed his name in 2022. Despite identifying as male for eight years, he was unable to change the gender marker on his driver’s license due to the emergency rule. This discrepancy causes him distress and exposes him to potential discrimination.

“My identity is not up for debate. Being forced to carry identification that misrepresents who I am undermines my dignity and safety. The emergency rule denies me the basic right to live authentically."

Kaden McIntosh (they/them)

Meet Kaden, a plaintiff in Gallagher v. Arkansas DFA.

Nonbinary Arkansan with blonde hair and black glasses smiling in front of a white door.

Kaden, a nonbinary Arkansan, has identified as such since 2020. They took steps to change their gender marker to “X” on their driver's license, but the emergency rule halted their plans. McIntosh’s situation underscores the limitations imposed by the rule on individuals’ self-expression.


“The emergency rule forces me into a box that doesn't fit. Denying me the option to accurately represent my gender identity on my ID denies me the basic respect and recognition I deserve.”