California Officially Recognizes A Third Gender: Non-Binary

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It’s a great day for equality.

California has officially passed legislation recognizing non-binary as a third gender option — making it the first state to do so. The new law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last Sunday, will apply to all legal documents issued by the state, including birth certificates and drivers licenses.

This new law could potentially sway the federal government to recognize non-binary gender on federal documents like passports and Social Security cards. Currently you need birth a birth certificate and a drivers license to obtain a passport and birth certificate to get a Social Security card; but by 2019, both birth certificates and drivers licenses could read “X” or “non-binary” for California-born residents. This could mean that the Social Security Administration and other federal agencies will be forced to recognize non-binary gender on their records.

Recent estimates put the number of intersex Americans — those born with neither clearly defined male nor female chromosomes, gonads, hormones, and/ or genitals — as high as 5.5 million, many of whom identify as non-binary. Not all intersex people identify as non-binary, just as plenty of non-intersex people do identify as non-binary. An estimated 35% of trans Americans identify as non-binary. All of these individuals cannot currently get a passport or Social Security card that accurately describes their gender identity.

This new California law is one small step in the right direction to change just that. Only time will tell if the other 49 states — and the federal government — will eventually follow suit.

Until then, Californians can celebrate this most recent win for social equality.


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