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California Legally Embraces Third Gender Option: 3 Fast Facts

On Sunday, California signed a Senate bill into law allowing residents to choose a third gender for birth certificates and driver's licenses.


The bill, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, was titled the Gender Recognition Act. It came just days before Spirit Day, which is a day for people to support LGBTQ youth during National Bullying Prevention Month.

But let's delve a little deeper to find out what a third gender means for Californians.

What does the Gender Recognition Act aim to do?

Senate Bill 179 - AKA the Gender Recognition Act - states that "the binary gender designations of female and male fail to adequately represent the diversity of human experience."

The legislation is of particular importance for transgender individuals seeking to change their gender identification on legal documents. It also gets rid of a requirement that applicants have to first obtain a letter from a physician before requesting a change to their gender identification.

California state Sen. Toni Atkins (D), the author of the bill, told The Hill, "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."

Why is this significant?

By enacting the law, California has become the first state to legally allow individuals to change to a third gender, also known as "nonbinary" or "intersex," option on birth certificates. Previously, Washington, D.C. and Oregon both enacted laws over the summer allowing for an "X" option on driver's licenses. A similar measure is being pursued in New York.

When does the law take effect?

The law will go into effect in two phases.

First, starting on September 1, 2018, California residents will be allowed to request changes to their gender without having undergone treatment.

Then, on January 1, 2019, the third gender option will be a selectable option on driver's licenses and renewals.

Naturally, there are some who aren't happy with the change.

Randy Thomasson, who heads a group called SaveCalifornia.com, told The Hill: "This new law calls transsexuality good, when science, health, logic and love inform us it’s bad. Science and God’s word agree you’re either male or female, not in-between."

But others have a simple reply:

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H/T: Mashable, The Hill