Metro Weekly

California bill offers non-binary option for gender markers on state IDs

Law also makes it easier for non-binary people to obtain gender marker changes from courts

The dome of the Capitol building in Sacramento – Photo: Alex Wild, via Wikimedia.

California is in line to become the third jurisdiction to allow state residents to choose a “gender neutral” or non-binary gender option on their driver’s licenses and other forms of state identification after lawmakers approved a bill setting up that option last week.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), would not only offer a non-binary option for those who identify as neither male nor female, but amends California laws to make it easier to obtain a gender marker change from state agencies or courts, reports the Times of San Diego.

While California law already does not require surgery to change one’s gender marker, this bill would eliminate requirements requiring a person to have undergone any transition-related medical treatments — such as hormones — in order to have courts recognize their correct gender identity.

“Many of us have an ID that matches our gender presentation, and so showing it is hassle-free,” Atins told the Times. “But for Californians who have an ID that does not match their gender presentation, showing it at airports, in shops or to law enforcement can be extremely stressful and lead to harassment or a delay in completing a transaction. It doesn’t need to be this way.”

Earlier this year, the District of Columbia approved a policy that allows residents to select a non-binary gender option for their licenses or ID cards, without requiring verification from a third party, such as an affidavit or signature from a medical provider. Oregon has made a regulatory change allowing residents to select a non-binary gender option, also without having to submit third-party verification.

Other countries, including Canada, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Australia, and New Zealand, already recognize non-binary genders on identification documents.

The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who is widely expected to sign it into law.

Mark Snyder, the communications director for Equality Federation, who identifies as non-binary, issued a personal statement calling on Brown to sign the bill.

“Most people know from a very young age that they are either male or female. But that is not true for everyone,” Snyder said. “What I have long understood about myself is that in my heart, in my soul, and in my mind I truly do not feel that male or female matches who I am on the inside.

“To have my identification reflect my authentic self would be validating and feel like a weight off my shoulders. For so many non-binary people like myself, having gender markers that match our identities could alleviate potentially discriminatory situations and make us safer. Everyone, after all, has to show their ID at some point.”


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

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