California to Officially Recognize Third Gender

3rd gender 1

Gender symbol for being nonbinary. 
Photo courtesy creative commons. Gathered by Maddie Killian.

Staff Writer: Preston Stubblefield

Gender is no longer male, or female, in the state of California. On October 15, Governor Jerry Brown, signed into law legislation that recognizes a third gender option for driver’s licenses and birth certificates. Starting in 2018, Californians will be able to identify themselves as not just male or female, but “nonbinary.”

California joins Oregon and Washington D.C. in creating the third gender option on driver’s licenses. New York may follow. Unlike California, Oregon and Washington have not passed an actual law to change, and neither accommodate a revision on birth certificates. Countries that recognize a third gender include Australia, Germany and India.

“With Governor Brown’s signature on this bill, transgender and non-binary people will now be able to identify themselves as they are, not as who society tells them they should be,” said Wiener, in a statement.

The new law not only addresses the experience of inter-sex, those individuals born with different sexual characteristics but also is a growing trend among transgender youth who a traditional gender identity, decoupling it from not only their innate physiology, but from the notion that only males and females exist.

The new law, which will take effect on Sept. 1, 2018 defines of “nonbinary” as an “umbrella term for people with gender identities that fall somewhere outside of the traditional conceptions of strictly either female or male.”

This classification includes but is not limited to some transgender individuals, those born with intersex traits, those who use gender-neutral pronouns, and those who describe their genders as “agender, bigender, gender nonconforming, or gender variant.”

A survey of more than 12,000 people across 32 countries reveal that global attitudes about gender identity are changing. The survey, found that 61 percent of women and 46 percent of men believe “children should be raised in as gender neutral way as possible so as to avoid rigid gender restrictions.” If parents want to raise their children to be their most authentic, then it means dropping preconceived notions of gender.

California has not only made it easier for parents to help their children feel supported in their gender identity on an administrative level, but they’ve basically said to the rest of the nation Nonbinary exists and needs to be acknowledged and it’s time for us to catch up.

The binary gender designations of female and male fail to adequately represent the diversity of human experience. California was the first state to recognize the third gender, and will be first of many.



3rd gender

The third gender sign California allows you to put on legal documents. Photo courtesy creative commons. Gathered by Maddie Killian

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