What is Gender 'X'? OR and California Are Breaking With M/F Binary

The move will make the state the first in the U.S.to legally recognize the identifier, and will be a triumphant step forward for the non-binary and trans community.

OR has become the first U.S. state to include a third gender option on state-issued identification cards.

In a statement issued Thursday after OR made its decision, Lambda Legal explained why giving non-binary people the legal means to identify themselves as such on state ID is so much more than ink on paper.

Having the third option on legal documentation can help reduce discrimination and raise awareness of "the spectrum of gender identity", said Diane Goodwin, spokeswoman for Basic Rights Oregon, an advocacy group that campaigned for the "X" option.

The new rule came about after an OR resident's court order authorized a sex change from female to "non-binary".


In January, New York City issued the first-known intersex birth certificate to Sara Kelley Keenan, but Keenan has been since unable to change the gender on her birth certificate or state ID. Drivers can now choose if they're male, female, or x.

Earlier this month, Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill making it easier for transgender residents to shield changes they make to their birth certificates, with the aim of mitigating potential discrimination from employers or landlords, making or the second state (after California) to pass such a law.

"In national surveys, people who have to present ID that does not match their gender identity or expression frequently report being harassed and are sometimes attacked or assaulted", Hayley Gorenberg, Lambda's Deputy Legal Director, said, "Encounters with police, hospital staff, employers, airport staff, bank tellers - really anyone checking identification in the ordinary course of life - often take on threatening dimensions when our ID misrepresents our gender".

As for the licenses, the final decision was ultimately up to the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles.

OR is among the handful of states in the vanguard of transgender and LGBTQ rights. My gender identity has never been male, but I feel like I have to own up to my male biology. "I'm a mixture of both", Shupe said. According to Basic Rights Oregon, even the United Nations already uses a non-binary gender marker, X. California would be the first state to establish a third gender option through legislation.


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