People who wish to avail of drivers licenses and birth certificates in California may soon have a third option aside from the gender categories male and female, as a measure for that is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown.
Senators Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Scott Wiener ( D-San Francisco) introduced the bill that would establish a new nonbinary gender marker for official state documents and it got cleared on Thursday without debate.
The lawmakers framed the said measure as an “expansion of rights” for transgender, intersex and other people who do not identify either as male and female.
Atkins said IDs should match people’s gender presentation, and that they should be shown without hassles. She said in the case of Californians who have IDs that do not match their gender preference, showing their IDs at airports, shops, law enforcement can be extremely “stressful” and can lead to delay or harassment in completing a transaction.
SB 179 would also pave the way for streamlining the process for people to change their gender on their official documents. It would already do away with the current requirement that an individual must obtain a sworn statement from a doctor certifying medical treatment for gender transition. It would also allow for a process involving people below 18 to apply for a change of gender on their birth certificate.
Atkins said at a Capitol news conference: “It will keep California at the forefront of LGBTQ civil rights.” Atkins is a known lesbian and a member of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus also shared that their proposal marks an “evolution” for her in better understanding the concerns and issues of the transgender and intersex community.
Weiner for his part said their proposal also places California in marked contrast to other states in the U.S. including North Carolina, where there have been strong controversies regarding a high-profile law regulating transgender people’s use of public bathrooms.
Weiner also said it is meant for the LGBTQ community. He elaborated: “As the LGBT community - but especially the trans community-is under assault in this country, California needs to go to the opposite direction and embrace the trans community and support the trans community and modernize these laws.
The legislation does not yet specify what the alternate gender marker would be. Other countries who have done the same such as Australia and New Zealand have used the letter “X” alongside “M” for male and “F” for female.
The LGBTQ community in California, as expected, is celebrating the proposal.