California Becomes First State to Legally Recognize Third Gender

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California Governor Jerry Brown signed first-of-its kind legislation over the weekend that enables residents of the state to choose a third, non-binary gender category on California state-issued IDs, birth certificates and driver’s licenses.

The Gender Recognition Act, or Senate Bill 179, also reportedly makes the process of an individual changing their gender on legal documents easier by no longer requiring a statement from a physican declaring that they’ve undergone “clinical treatment.”

“As the LGBT community — but especially the trans community — is under assault in this country, California needs to go in the opposite direction and embrace the trans community and support the trans community and modernize these laws,” State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who co-sponsored the bill alongside Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), said in a statement.

While Oregon and Washington D.C. have undergone steps to make it easier for citizens to legally identify as non-binary, California is the first to enshrine a third gender category into law.

Brown also signed legislation this weekend that enables transgender people to change their name while incarcerated, which proponents say will help them get a leg up faster once they leave prison.

A number of other countries already have or are in the process of passing legislation that allows citizens to legally identify outside of the gender binary, including AustraliaCanadaNew ZealandU.KPakistan and Nepal.

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