California is the first state to officially recognize a third gender

Though California is currently dealing with still-raging wildfires, the government made time for gender rights. California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Gender Recognition Act on October 15th, which gives transgender, intersex, and nonbinary people the opportunity to select a third gender option on California state-issued IDs, like driver’s licenses and birth certificates. As Equality California noted, this bill makes California the first U.S. state to not require people to identify as male or female on official documents and is a major milestone for the LGBTQ+ community.

California Senators Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) authored this landmark bill, SB 179. “It will keep California at the forefront of LGBTQ civil rights,” Atkins said at a news conference when they proposed the bill in January 2017, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Along with having a third option for gender on government IDs, the Gender Recognition Act will make it easier for people to change their gender on existing documents.

While the legal recognition of a third gender in the U.S. is relatively new, Esquire noted that countries like Australia, Canada, Germany, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Thailand, and the U.K. have already enacted or have started to consider bills like these.

It’s also important to note that California isn’t the only state to take steps to better represent nonbinary people. (The new California law defines “nonbinary” as an “umbrella term for people with gender identities that fall somewhere outside of the traditional conceptions of strictly either female or male,” according to The Sacramento Bee.) The state of Oregon became the first state to offer a third option for gender on its driver’s licenses. NBC reported that New York and Washington, D.C. also proposed bills that offered a third sex on driver’s licenses and ID cards.

With states like California and Oregon leading the way, there’s hope that the rest of the country will follow in making the U.S. a more inclusive nation for all.

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