Capitol Alert

New option for gender in California bill headed to Jerry Brown

A California bill that would require the state for the first time to legally recognize “nonbinary” as a gender for people who do not identify as male or female passed the Legislature and awaits action by Gov. Jerry Brown.

“The Gender Recognition Act” makes it easier for people to change gender on state identification and birth certificates, while establishing the “nonbinary” designation.

“This is huge for this community who really feel that they have not been adequately protected,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego. “California is on the cutting edge for civil rights for all people. This is the next step.”

Atkins said the governor has supported equal rights for all people and hopes he will see SB 179 “in that vein.”

The state Senate approved Senate Bill 179 on a 26-12 vote.

Advocates say the measure expands rights for the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community by wiping out the need for a court order or proof of clinical treatment to apply for gender changes.

Under the bill, the state registrar would be required to issue a new birth certificate to California natives to reflect a gender change if someone applies and submits an affidavit attesting that the request is not for any fraudulent purpose. SB 179 also calls for the Department of Motor Vehicles to allow applicants for a driver’s license or identification card to choose a gender category of female, male or nonbinary.

SB 179 builds on a 2013 law by Atkins that allowed transgender people to obtain a new birth certificate with proof of “clinically appropriate treatment.”

Oregon began offering nonbinary gender markers on licenses this summer.

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna

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