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California Could Add Third Gender Option to State IDs

By: Ryan Gallagher September 29, 2017
California may soon join Oregon and Washington, D.C. in providing a third gender option for state ID cards.

California could become the second U.S. state to give a non-binary gender option for state driver’s licenses, identification cards, and birth certificates. Thus far Oregon and Washington, D.C. have passed similar laws.

In mid-September, the California state Senate passed a bill that would add a third gender option to state IDs. The bill would allow for a non-binary option on licenses and ID cards, and would also give parents of transgender children the option of changing the gender listed on their child’s birth certificate.

The Gender Identity bill (SB-179) must still be signed by Governor Jerry Brown in order to officially become law. Governor Brown has until October 15 to sign or veto the bill—if signed, the new law would go into effect in 2019.

California state Senators Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) authored the legislation.

“Many of us have an ID that matches our gender presentation, and so showing it is hassle-free,” Atkins said. “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.”

Lawmakers pointed out that as it stands, 1 in 10 transgender people reported that their IDs had their preferred name and gender represented, according to a 2015 survey. The Gender Identity bill would appease Californians who fall into that category, and cut down on the name/gender-changing legal process.

While it is not clear how much this potential new law could cost the state, lawmakers and those in support of the bill are hopeful for its passage.

“We haven’t heard anything from [Governor Brown’s] office, but he’s been in support of trans issues in the past,” said Corinne Green, a policy coordinator for Oakland-based Transgender Law Center, which co-sponsored the proposal.

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