Graphic by Nick Griffin
Senate Bill 179, signed by Governor Jerry Brown on October 15th, allows California residents to identify as “non-binary” on state IDs, driver licenses, and birth certificates. While most bills recently signed by Gov. Brown will go into effect in 2018, SB 179 (also called the Gender Recognition Act) will take effect in 2019.
The bill reads, “Gender identification is fundamentally personal, and the state should endeavor to provide options on state-issued identification documents that recognize a person’s accurate gender identification.” “Non-binary” is the umbrella term for people who do not consider themselves either female or male. Prior to this bill, Californians were to submit a physician’s sworn statement that they had undergone “clinically appropriate treatment for change of 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 third state to offer a third gender option on state IDs and driver licenses, as well as the first state to offer it on birth certificates. In the summer of 2017, Washington D.C. and Oregon’s third gender rules took into effect, allowing residents to select “X” rather than “M” or “F” on state IDs, driver licenses, and driver permits.
San Diego Senator Atkins, a member of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus, explained the bill’s importance, stating, “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.”
In addition to the spread of non-gendered bathrooms, the passing of SB 179 is a great stride towards equality for the LGBTQ+ community, specifically those who are trans, intersex, or gender non-conforming. San Francisco Senator Scott Wiener, an openly gay advocate for LGBTQ+ issues, tweeted on October 16th, “Society forces people into boxes & tells us who we’re supposed to be. SB 179 helps people of all gender identities be their authentic selves.”