Queenslanders Are Spewing Over A Change They Haven’t Realised Happened Ages Ago
No, queer people didn't force the government to remove gender from driver's licences.
This morning, news stories began to circulate saying that Queensland will be scrapping gender markers on driver’s licences after complaints from the LGBTQI+ community. Because this country is seemingly allergic to small, harmless concessions to marginalised groups, this news whipped quite a few people — including Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington — into a fury on social media.
Which is hilarious, because the change actually occurred two years ago and it appears that none of them realised.
Here’s how we got into this mess: early this morning, the Courier Mail published a story in which it claimed to have access to an internal Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads document, which said details like gender and height were being removed from licences over complaints that they could be “perceived as discriminatory”.
The actual reason for the change, according to Queensland Department of Transport statements today, appears to be less about complaints and more about actual anti-discrimination law — something that applies throughout the country. In fact, Queensland was the only Australian state to include gender on driver’s licences at all, which makes a lot of sense given that gender doesn’t actually have anything to do with your ability to drive a vehicle. Emphasis on the was: all new and renewed Queensland licences have been gender-free since October 2016.
Basically, the only remotely new part of today’s Courier Mail story was the leaked document about the supposed reasons for the change, which was wrong anyway. But that didn’t stop 9News from running the story with the future-tense headline “Queensland driver’s licences to go gender-free”, nor did it stop them from saying the change was being criticised as “political correctness gone mad” without actually attributing that quote to anyone.
The story has been shared hundreds of times, and the comments are flooded with a kind of baffled outrage — do these people realise you don’t need a letter on your driver’s licence to identify with a gender?
9News wasn’t the only one fooled, either. Leader of Queenland’s opposition government, Liberal MP Deb Frecklington, took to Twitter to say that the state’s government “need to focus on real issues affecting Queenslanders like jobs, congestion, crime, health and education and not this political correctness rubbish #howmuchdidthiscost”. I guess the joke’s on Frecklington — the only MP who spent today focused on what is quite literally rubbish.
.@AnnastaciaMP and @QLDLabor need to focus on real issues affecting Queenslanders like jobs, congestion, crime, health and education and not this political correctness rubbish. #howmuchdidthiscost #whatsnext #qldpol https://t.co/QGrd3dXgvJ
— Deb Frecklington MP (@DebFrecklington) January 11, 2018
Anyway, we called the Queensland Department of Transport to double check, and this definitely all happened in 2016. Which is funny, but also pretty sad, because it means that yet again, media outlets have unnecessarily whipped their audiences into an anti-LGBTQI+ frenzy for absolutely no reason.
It’s 2018, people. Licences have been gender neutral for years, and we should be better than this.