Sacramento—California Governor Jerry Brown on Sunday signed into law a bill making it easier to change gender markers on state-issued identification documents and that creates a gender-neutral, non-binary category in addition to "male" and "female." Senate Bill ( SB ) 179, authored by Sens. Toni Atkins ( D-San Diego ) and Scott Wiener ( D-San Francisco ) and sponsored by Equality California and the Transgender Law Center, also makes California the second state in the country, after Oregon, to legally recognize a nonbinary gender.
"I want to thank Governor 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," said Sen. Atkins. "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. I also thank Equality California for their passionate support for SB 179 — and everything they do for the members of our LGBTQ community."
"With the passage of SB 179, California continues its fight for a more inclusive society, even as some in Washington continue to undermine the LGBT community," said Sen. Wiener. "With Governor Brown's signature on this bill, transgender and non-binary people will now be able to be who they are, not who society forces them to be. For too long society has forced people into gender boxes. It's time for govenment to get out of the way and let people live their lives authentically as who they are. I am proud to have partnered with Senator Atkins to pass the Gender Recognition Act, and I look forward to continuing our fight for LGBT equality."
SB 179 makes it easier for transgender, intersex and non-binary people to get official identification documents that accurately reflect their gender identity. In addition to recognizing a nonbinary gender, this bill streamlines the process to change the gender marker or name on state-issued identification documents. Previously, individuals faced difficult and burdensome obstacles to change their identification documents, such as requirements that a person obtain a physician's verification or that they appear in court, which ultimately made the process intimidating and added expenses that an individual might not have.
"Gov. Brown's signature today has put California at the forefront of ensuring the dignity and safety of its transgender, non-binary and gender-non-conforming residents," said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. "When your ID doesn't match your gender identity or expression, it can expose you to potentially dangerous situations. SB 179 eliminates unnecessary obstacles from the process of getting state-issued identification documents for thousands of Californians."
"With this simple change, California has made daily life infinitely safer and easier for many gender nonbinary and transgender people," said Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center. "We're asked for identification everywhere from banks to bars to airports, and it can be devastating and even dangerous for nonbinary and transgender people to navigate life with an I.D. that doesn't reflect who they truly are."
According to a 2015 national survey of 25,000 transgender people, only 11 percent reported that all their identification documents had their name and gender that is consistent with their gender identity, and one-third of respondents who showed an ID with a gender marker that did not match their appearance reported being verbally harassed, denied services or assaulted.
Equality California is the nation's largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. We bring the voices of LGBTQ people and allies to institutions of power in California and across the United States, striving to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people. We advance civil rights and social justice by inspiring, advocating and mobilizing through an inclusive movement that works tirelessly on behalf of those we serve. www.eqca.org