LITTLE ROCK – Today, the Arkansas Supreme Court paused a circuit judge’s previous order blocking the state’s emergency rule regarding gender markers on Arkansas driver’s licenses and IDs. The court did not provide any explanation for this decision.

The ACLU of Arkansas unequivocally asserts that the emergency rule, which removes the option for people to self-identify their gender and eliminates the “X” marker on state IDs, contradicts accepted medical consensus and violates fundamental principles of privacy and equality.

“We believe that the law supports the circuit court’s order,” said John C. Williams, Legal Director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “To pass an emergency rule, an agency must explain why there is an imminent peril requiring it to act without giving the public notice and an opportunity to comment. We will continue to defend the circuit court’s order as the State’s appeal proceeds.”

“We are deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court decided to restore the emergency rule without explanation,” Williams continued. “The plaintiffs and the public are at a loss to know why the Supreme Court permitted the emergency rule to go forward despite the agency’s failure to identify an imminent peril during the procedure for emergency rulemaking.”

“The only real emergency here is the one created by the state itself, imposing this rule on transgender, intersex, and nonbinary Arkansans,” said Holly Dickson, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arkansas. “By removing the ‘X’ marker option, the state forces those who do not fit squarely into the gender binary to choose an inaccurate gender marker, resulting in potential confusion, distress, discrimination, physical harm, and a lack of proper identification.”

Despite this ruling, the ACLU of Arkansas remains steadfast in our commitment to advocate for inclusive policies. 

The emergency rule will expire on July 14, 2024, if not replaced by a permanent rule by that time. The state is still in the process of adopting a permanent rule. The ACLU of Arkansas urges concerned Arkansans to make their voices heard in the permanent rulemaking process by submitting written comments to the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) before the June 27th deadline at: [email protected].

A copy of the Supreme Court’s order can be found here.