California May Become First State to Legally Recognize 'Non-Binary Gender'

A gender-neutral bathroom is seen at the University of California, Irvine in Irvine, California, September 30, 2014. The University of California will designate gender-neutral restrooms at its 10 campuses to accommodate transgender students — a move that may be the first of its kind for a system of colleges in the United States. | (Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)

A California state legislator has introduced a bill that would give a third option for gender identification on government identification documents.

Senate Bill 179, which was introduced last week by State Senator Toni Atkins of San Diego, would remove the requirement that a person identify as male or female, and also make it easier to change one's gender identity on IDs.

"This bill would delete the requirement that an applicant have undergone any treatment and instead would authorize a person to submit to the State Registrar an application to change gender on the birth certificate and an affidavit attesting, under penalty of perjury, that the request for a change of gender is to conform the person's legal gender to the person's gender identity and not for any fraudulent purpose," noted the legislative counsel's digest.

"This bill would require the applicant for a driver's license or identification card to choose a gender category of female, male, or nonbinary to be included as part of the applicant's description. The bill would also require the department to promulgate regulations for an expedient amendment of a gender category on a driver's license and identification card."

The Sacramento Bee noted that Atkins' bill "builds on a 2013 law, also carried by Atkins, that allowed transgender people to obtain a new birth certificate with proof of 'clinically appropriate treatment.'"

"It reflects the rapid progression of transgender visibility and acceptance in American culture – as well as the backlash that has sparked political battles like North Carolina's HB2," reported the Bee.

"Countries including Australia, New Zealand and Denmark already allow citizens to get passports with the nonbinary gender marker 'X.' In recent months, a handful of Americans have also won court orders that allows them to change their legal gender to nonbinary."

California's legislature is known for passing legislation that advances controversial LGBT agenda items. In 2012, California became the first state to ban sexual orientation conversion therapy for gay youth.

Last year, the state legislature considered a bill that included a provision making it easier for LGBT students to sue religious schools for discrimination. However, the provision was eventually dropped in response to widespread outcry over religious liberty concerns.

SB 179 is not without criticism. California Family Council CEO Jonathan Keller released a statement last Thursday denouncing the Atkins bill as advancing "a falsehood; that being male or female, or no gender at all is a choice each person must make, not a fact to celebrate and accept."

"While we are sympathetic to the difficulties facing those experiencing gender dysphoria, we believe government documents need to reflect biological facts for identification and medical purposes," stated Keller.

"Laws like this will simply erase any meaningful gender definitions, if being male or female is completely divorced from biological facts. I hope the legislature rejects this bill quickly."

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