California may offer third gender option on driver's licenses
California is the latest state to consider adding a third gender option on driver’s licenses and birth certificates for those that do not identify as a man or woman.
The option is included in a bill that is about to go before Gov. Jerry Brown. It would allow a non-binary option starting in 2019, SFGate.com reported.
The state Senate passed Senate Bill 179 (SB179) on Thursday – one of hundreds of bills sent to the Governor’s Office in the past week. The final Senate vote was 26-12 in favor for the third option -- and to give parents of transgender youth the ability to change the gender listed on their child’s birth certificate.
“Many of us have an ID that matches our gender presentation, and so showing it is hassle-free,” state Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, told the news site. “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.”
Brown, a Democrat, has not indicated publicly whether he will sign the bill.
Earlier this summer, Oregon became the first state in the U.S. to allow residents to mark their gender as “not specified" on applications for driver’s licenses, learner’s permits and ID cards.
Oregonians who select the new option will have an “X” appear instead of “M” or “F” on those cards.
The DMV said the new rule, which the commission passed unanimously, came about after a Multnomah County judge in June 2016 allowed Jamie Shupe, a Portland resident, to legally change to "non-binary" gender.
Oregon may be the first state in the U.S. to create this option, but it was not the first on the continent. The Canadian province of Ontario implemented the “X” option earlier this year.
Just last month, Canada went one step further and gave its citizens the option of marking “X” as an “unspecified” gender designation, for any federal document issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) — including passports.
Canada is not the first country to address gender identification on passports and other identification cards. Countries where a third gender option is available include Australia, Bangladesh, Germany, India, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand and Pakistan, the New York Times reported.