Transgender Floridians and allies protest at DMV locations statewide

(Photo by Bellanee Plaza)

ORLANDO | Transgender Floridians and allies staged die-in protests at DMV locations across the state Feb. 9 demanding a reversal of the January memo issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Deputy Executive Director Robert Kynoch.

The memo targeted transgender people and their ability to update the gender marker on a replacement driver’s license or state ID card. Those who attempt to indicate a gender that differs from their sex assigned at birth when obtaining a new or replacement document could be subject to criminal and civil penalties, according to the press release.

Protests took place in Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Gainesville. They are being led by directly impacted communities and advocates.

Joseph Knoll, founder of SPEKTRUM Health, attended the Orlando die-in as an ally to the trans community and as a key leader in making sure the protest went accordingly.

“More and more people see their friends and family and find out that they’re transgender and see the harm and consequences that they’re facing, people are waking up,” Knoll says. “They’re not okay with it. We need to take care of each other, that’s the strongest message.”

Protestors at the University Blvd. DMV in Orlando were denied access into the building, leading to the die-in to be done outside of the DMV.

Protestors held their die-ins for a symbolic 37 minutes, representing the percentage of Floridians who were verbally harassed, denied benefits or service, asked to leave or assaulted when showing an ID with a name or gender that did not match their gender presentation.

Lana Dunn, a transgender activist, says she is frustrated because she just changed her name and went through the legal process of the change.

“I had to go through notaries, I had to go through court and I had to jump through absolute hoops to make that happen,” Dunn says. “Only to get to this juncture and be shut down on changing my gender marker to reflect who I really am. That’s deeply insulting and offensive.”

The goal of the protest is to urge allies across the state and country to send virtual messages to federal law enforcement and the White House asking them to intervene. The virtual action has generated over 650 emails to the Department of Justice and the White House, as of Feb. 7.

Four states — Montana, North Dakota, Tennessee and Kansas — have enacted anti-LGBTQ+ erasure laws and at least 18 such bills have been filed in 12 state legislatures this year, according to the release. The memo is the latest in the nationwide effort to strip away transgender peoples’ freedom.

Lillian Murray, another trans activist who was able to change her name 11 years ago, joined the dozens of protestors at the Orlando DMV.

“I feel like everybody should have the right to be able to do that,” Murray says. “The government shouldn’t be able to tell us that we can’t have our gender identity the way we want it. I’m just trying to live my life.”

Florida’s legislature is currently considering House Bill 1639, which would require driver’s licenses and other state-issued IDs to reflect a person’s sex assigned at birth rather than their gender identity.

“I’m so proud of the trans lives that are out here facing risks but out here trying to make their point because they love their community so much and they recognize how their rights are being stripped away from them,” Knoll says.

Photos by Bellanee Plaza.

More in News

See More