Denied Service and Humiliated at The DMV for Being Transgender September 8, 2016

morris-family-3Jennifer and Kenzo Morris are proud to call New Hampshire home. Between work, family, and their social lives — the Morrises keep very busy. Jennifer works in human resources, while Kenzo is a full time stay-at-home dad to their twin four-year-old daughters. They are also active members in their church, runners and musicians — their band has opened for music icons Pat Benatar and Blondie.

When the two were looking for a place to call home, they picked Gilmanton, New Hampshire.

“It’s really beautiful here,” Jennifer said. “We live in a quiet neighborhood. It’s just a great place to raise to family.”

While they love their community, Jennifer and Kenzo haven’t always felt welcomed and accepted. Kenzo is a transgender, black man and when asked if they’ve ever faced discrimination, both Kenzo and Jennifer sadly said “yes.”

“We have several stories of discrimination,” Kenzo replied.

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One example happened in 2014. Shortly after Kenzo transitioned, he went to the Concord Department of Motor Vehicles to get a new driver’s license. Being transgender, Kenzo never expected the process of updating his important paperwork and documents to reflect his true gender to be simple, but he never believed getting a new driver’s license would turn into a embarrassing nightmare.

“It was a terrible experience,” Jennifer stated.

Kenzo provided documentation to the DMV clerk showing that he underwent surgery, but it wasn’t enough. The DMV worker raised her voice, laughed and pointed at Kenzo for being transgender. She denied him a driver’s license that accurately reflected his gender because he did not have all the surgeries required by the New Hampshire DMV.

morris-family-1“I was extremely ashamed and humiliated,” Kenzo said, but he didn’t give up. Instead, he took his fight directly to the DMV, and he won.

Thanks to Kenzo’s fight, the New Hampshire DMV changed their policies and now allow transgender people to obtain a new license reflecting their gender identity with no surgical requirement whatsoever.  Now gender can be changed by simply providing confirmation from a physician, a social worker or a mental health counselor of being transgender.

“No one should have to go through this type of discrimination,” Kenzo noted. “We just want to live our lives peacefully like everyone else.”