Soapbox

Jerry Brown should sign the Gender Recognition Act

State Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, September 2017, are co-authors of Senate Bill 170, the Gender Recognition Act.
State Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, September 2017, are co-authors of Senate Bill 170, the Gender Recognition Act. AP

It said male on my birth certificate, and I was raised as a boy.

However, for as far back as I can remember, I never imagined myself growing up to be a man or a woman.

As a child growing up in Amish Country in rural Pennsylvania, I would show interest in the toys and activities that society deems to be only for girls: twirling baton, tumbling on the balance beam and playing with makeup. I enjoyed some of the stereotypically male activities as well, including several years of participation in the Boy Scouts.

I had no word to describe my identity as a child, but I do as an adult. I’m nonbinary, identifying as neither male nor female, and I’m one of many who have recently begun to share our stories more publicly.

While most people know from a very young age that they are either male or female, some of us have a deep realization, often from a very young age, that those categories don’t quite describe whom we know ourselves to be.

Few transgender and nonbinary people have identification that matches who we are. In a national survey, 68 percent reported that none of their IDs reflected their authentic name and gender.

Take a moment to imagine how that might feel every time you buy a drink, are greeted by a doorman, check-in at the doctor’s office, or pick up your tickets at the theater.

I urge Gov. Jerry Brown to sign the Gender Recognition Act into law. Senate Bill 179 by Sens. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, would allow me for the first time to feel as if I am truly seen and included by my state, which I am so proud to call home.

To be able to go about my daily life knowing that I am recognized and having ID that matches who I am on the inside, would feel like a weight lifted.

Gov. Brown is a formidable leader in the state-based resistance to President Donald Trump’s attacks on our diverse communities. A stack of progressive legislation sits on his desk ready to be signed.

If he were to approve the groundbreaking Gender Recognition Act, it would enable those of us who are transgender, intersex or nonbinary to obtain state-issued identity documents that accurately reflect our gender identities.

The common-sense legislation would also eliminate bureaucratic obstacles to obtaining accurate IDs, like the requirement to have medical certification and appear in court.

Many people can relate to not fitting into rigid gender norms, but this is something deeper. What I have come to understand about myself is that in my heart, in my soul, and in my mind I truly do not feel that male or female matches who I am on the inside.

I was raised to treat everyone as I want to be treated, including people who may seem different. We never know what someone else is going through until we have been in their shoes.

Nonbinary people are a part of America’s fabric. We are in families, schools, workplaces, churches and in every community. All of us, including gender nonbinary people, should have a fair opportunity to enjoy our lives, provide for ourselves and our families, and reach our fullest potential without the fear of discrimination.

Mark Daniel Snyder, communications director for Equality Federation, lives in San Francisco. His email is: mark@equalityfederation.org.

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