California just became the first state in the U.S. to recognize a third gender.
On Monday, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that allows residents to choose a non-binary option when listing their gender on driver's licenses, state IDs and birth certificates, the Huffington Post reports. Called the Gender Recognition Act, the legislation is the first of its kind. In addition to adding the non-binary gender option, the law also ends the previous procedure that required trans individuals who want to change their gender on legal documents to provide a doctor's note or appear in court.
— Senator Toni Atkins (@SenToniAtkins) October 16, 2017
“I want to thank Gov. Brown for recognizing how difficult it can be for our transgender, nonbinary and intersex family members, friends and neighbors when they don’t have an ID that matches their gender presentation," Sen. Toni Atkins, one of the bill's authors, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. "The Gender Recognition Act will eliminate unnecessary stress and anxiety for many Californians, and it exemplifies the leadership role that our state continues to take in LGBTQ civil rights."
While, as BuzzFeed notes, Oregon has offered an "X" gender option on IDs and driver's licenses since this summer, California is officially the first state to legally recognize those who do not identify as male or female — and many LGBTQ rights advocates are hoping it will set a trend for other states to follow.
Sara Kelly Keenan, an intersex rights activist who became the first person to be issued an intersex birth certificate back in December 2016, called the bill "an important moment in history," on Monday. "We as a society need to learn that biological sex and gender identification, which are very different from each other, occur along a spectrum," she said.