Metro Weekly

California governor signs non-binary ID and other pro-LGBTQ bills into law

Jerry Brown – Photo: Neon Tommy, via Wikimedia.

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has signed a measure that allows people to obtain a non-binary gender marker on state IDs and driver’s licenses, making it the third jurisdiction in the United States to do so, behind Oregon and the District of Columbia.

Brown’s decision to sign the non-binary ID bill comes on the heels of his decision to sign several other pro-LGBTQ measures, including a bill of rights protecting LGBTQ seniors, and a bill that amends California’s HIV criminalization laws.

The first measure, known as the Gender Recognition Act, will create a system that allows non-binary or gender-fluid people to obtain licenses and other state IDs with a gender marker reflecting their correct gender identity. The bill also streamlines the process through which people must go in order to change their gender designation on various identification documents.

“I’ve never been more proud to live in California, and I can’t wait to change my driver’s license to reflect my non-binary gender,” Mark Snyder, the director of communications for Equality Federation, said in a statement. “Non-binary and transgender people are your friends, family, and neighbors. We are part of the fabric of this state and nation. This commonsense law will eliminate unnecessary barriers for people like me, enabling us to live free from the discrimination we endure when our IDs don’t match our true selves.”

The second bill, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), strengthens nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ seniors living in long-term care facilities. The bill aims to prevent LGBTQ seniors from being misgendered, denied admission to a long-term care facility, being forcibly transferred within a facility or evicted because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or HIV status.

Wiener is also the author of the Senate version of a bill that modernizes California’s HIV criminalization laws, which stigmatize people living with HIV by imposing harsh penalties on them for “exposing” others to HIV, even if they engage in non-sexual activities, or use condoms, PrEP or other forms of protection against HIV transmission as part of their sexual activities. The bill also brings the penalties for HIV — which were made harsher when written due to the lack of scientific knowledge about the virus — into line with laws that apply to other serious communicable diseases.

Assemblyman Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), the sponsor of the Assembly version of the HIV criminalization bill, praised the measure for the effect it would have on encouraging more people to come forward and get tested to know their status.

“With the Governor’s signature today, we are helping to reduce the stigma that keeps some from learning their HIV status and getting into treatment to improve their health, extend their lives, and prevent additional infections.” Gloria said in a statement. “This action keeps California at the forefront in the fight to stop the spread of HIV.

Scott Schoettes, the HIV Project Director and senior counsel for Lambda Legal, said the bill will make California “the undeniable leader in ensuring that a public health rather than punitive approach is utilized to address transmissible disease prevention.”

“Much work remains to be done across the United States, and California just provided a roadmap and a model for the work ahead,” Schoettes said in a statement. “I am more optimistic than ever that we will one day rid this country of these discriminatory criminal laws.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com