SACRAMENTO, CA, Oct. 16, 2017 – Last night, Governor Brown signed into law SB 179, the Gender Recognition Act, which makes it easier for transgender, intersex, and nonbinary people to obtain state-issued identity documents that reflect their gender. Authored by Senators Toni Atkins and Scott Wiener and sponsored by Transgender Law Center and Equality California, the Gender Recognition Act makes California the second state in the country to legally recognize nonbinary gender.
“With this simple change, California has made daily life much safer and easier for many gender nonbinary and transgender people,” said Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center. “We’re asked for identification everywhere from banks to bars to airports, and it can be devastating and even dangerous for nonbinary and transgender people to navigate life with an I.D. that doesn’t reflect who they truly are.”
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The Gender Recognition Act streamlines the process for Californians to apply to change their gender markers, and creates a nonbinary gender category on California birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, identity cards, and gender-change court orders. Oregon created a nonbinary gender option earlier this year through an administrative action applying to drivers’ licenses and identification cards and passed a law simplifying the process for birth certificates. Similarly, the DMV for Washington, D.C. began offering an “X” in addition to “M” and “F” in June.
“As someone who doesn’t fit into the boxes of man or woman, having my state back me up like this means the world to me,” said Tone Lee-Bias, a nonbinary 20-year-old from Sacramento. “Too many times, I have smiled to mask my discomfort while police officers, doctors, nurses, teachers, and so many others have inspected and interrogated me, trying to determine if I’m a boy or girl. It’s a relief knowing that I can finally get an ID that reflects who I truly am.”