SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Under a first-of-its-kind transgender bill announced Thursday by a California lawmaker, state identity laws would be streamlined to allow residents to change their gender without a doctor’s order – and allow anyone to choose a third nonbinary gender option.
If passed, Senate Bill 179 would make California the first state to offer a third gender option for those who self-identify as neither male nor female on state-issued documents such as driver’s licenses and birth certificates.
State Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, says the Gender Recognition Act of 2017 will remove barriers transgender Californians routinely face while trying to update identification documents. Her bill would also allow nonbinary residents to avoid appearing in court if there is no documented objection to their gender- or name-change petition.
“It’s time for our state to make it easier for transgender Californians and those who don’t conform to traditional notions of gender to have state-issued identification documents that reflect who they truly are,” Atkins said in a statement. “This bill will help them avoid the discrimination and harassment that too many of these residents face in their daily lives.”
The proposal would amend current law, which requires a gender-change applicant to provide the court with proof they have undergone some measure of gender-transition treatment. The individual is required to appear in court and present a judge with a physician’s sworn statement.
Supporters say SB 179 takes power over gender identity decisions from doctors and judges and gives it to the individual.
“This groundbreaking legislation will ensure that California supports and values its transgender and gender-nonconforming residents and fully includes them in the fabric of our society,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California.
The Transgender Law Center co-sponsored the bill and says making identification changes easier for transgender Californians allows them to “safely navigate life.” According to the center, almost 70 percent of transgender people have been blocked from updating basic state documents.
“Whether going through airport security, voting or applying for a bank account, everyone needs an accurate ID to safely navigate life,” said Kris Hayashi, the center’s executive director.
Along with adding a third identification marker, SB 179 would give minors the ability to apply for a gender change.
“It’s been a journey for even me, a member of the LGBT community, to evolve and understand the struggles and needs of our communities,” Atkins tweeted after introducing the bill.