California just became the first state in the United States to recognize a third gender. The Governor of California, Jerry Brown, signed a bill on Sunday that would recognize a third gender known as nonbinary which is in addition to the other two genders; male and female.
This will allow a new identity on documents such as driver’s licenses and also birth certificates.
The bill also makes the legal process a little easier for those interested in gender reassignment surgery.
The bill removes any requirements to obtain a doctor’s statement or permission to get a sex change and also removes any necessity of having to appear in person in court.
The bill’s co-author, Toni Atkins (a Democrat from San Diego) wrote: ‘I want to thank Gov. Brown for recognizing how difficult it can be for our transgender family members, friends, and neighbors when they don’t have an ID that matches their gender presentation.’
He continued: ‘the Gender Recognition Act will eliminate unnecessary stress and anxiety for many Californians, and it exemplifies the leadership role that our state continues to take in LGBTQ civil rights.’
The bill has been widely supported by doctors, lawyers, and teacher groups. The main opponent of this bill has been the California Family Council, a religious organization.
Sara Kelly Keenan, who is an activist and also works for the Intersex and Genderqueer Recognition Project, testified in front of legislators that the bill would dramatically improve the lives of those who are unsure about their gender identities.
She has since been the first Californian to be recognized as a nonbinary citizen and the second American to have been granted that recognition.
In an interview, she said that Governor Brown’s decision to sign that bill is an ‘important moment in history.’
‘We as a society need to learn that biological sex and gender identification, which are very different from each other, occur along a spectrum.’