Gender Recognition Act Passes Legislature in California

Transgender Universe

The California legislature passed the bill on Thursday. It would make the state the first in the United States to officially recognize non-binary as a gender on all state issued documents.

The Gender Recognition Act, Senate Bill 179, passed the California Senate in late May by a vote of 26-12. It passed the California Assembly on Wednesday with a 57-21 vote. The bill was then sent back to the Senate for approval of amendments made by the Assembly. On Thursday, SB 179 passed the legislature with one day left in this legislative session. The bill now sits on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk, where he has until October 15th to either veto it or sign it into law.

If signed, the law will go into affect in 2019. In addition to allowing the third gender option on state issued documents, the law will also remover barriers to gender changes on state documents. Parents of a transgender youth will now be able to change the gender listed on their child’s birth certificate. The law would also remove a provision under state law that requires a sworn statement from a physician that attests to a gender change in order to have it reflected on identifying documents.

SB 179 was introduced by state Senators Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco. If signed, it will become the second law to include a non-binary option on state issued documents. Back in July, the state of Oregon began to offer a non-binary “X” option in addition to the traditional “M” and “F” options on driver’s licenses and ID cards only. The California bill goes a step further, as it also applies to birth certificates. “SB 179 will make things a lot easier for our transgender, non-binary and intersex friends and neighbors,” Atkins said in a statement on Wednesday.

Though lawmakers are hopeful that Governor Brown will sign the bill into law, many are concerned that the cost of implementing the law may deter him. For example it would cost $500,000 for the Department of Motor Vehicles to make the necessary updates. Supporters of the bill are not sure where he stands on the legislation.