Washington to recognise third gender in groundbreaking move
Washington has announced that it will recognise non-binary people on official documents, in a landmark move.
The groundbreaking step makes Washington the third state in the US to put ‘X’ alongside ‘M’ and ‘F’ on forms like driving licenses and birth certificates.
Those wishing to change their legal gender on official forms will also now not require a letter from their doctor.
Washingtonians under 18 can change their gender on birth documents, but will need consent from their guardian and doctor.
Washington DC, on the other side of the country from Washington state, became the first US territory to create an official third gender last year.
Oregon and California were making moves to recognise non-binary people, but DC flew under the radar to cross the finish line first.
The law in Washington will come into effect from January 27, and means that people can change their documents to state that they are Gender X.
The State Department of Health has defined ‘X’ as “a gender that is not exclusively male or female, including, but not limited to, intersex, agender, amalgagender, androgynous, bigender, demigender, female-to-male, genderfluid, genderqueer, male-to-female, neutrois, nonbinary, pangender, third sex, transgender, transsexual, Two Spirit, and unspecified.”
However, the law will not apply to people acquiring documents for the first time.
Sarah Kate Ellis, President of GLAAD, said: “With LGBTQ people and especially trans and non-binary Americans under attack daily by the Trump Administration, as evidenced by Trump’s efforts to block trans Americans from serving in the military and rescinding of Title IX protections for trans students, designation ‘X’ is a powerful and reaffirming sign that our identities cannot and will not be erased,”.
She added: “It is vital that states catch up and acknowledge the reality of the non-binary community.”
Just two days after DC passed its law in June, Oregon’s law came into effect, making it the first US state to legally recognise non-binary people.
“This change in ID is a huge piece of validation for me,” J Gibbons, a non-binary, transgender Portland resident said at the time.
And in October, California followed suit – though its law will only be implemented in 2019.
At a public hearing for the plan in Washington state, supporters are reported to have greatly outnumbered those in opposition.
During the meeting, which was standing room-only, young residents spoke up in defence of their rights.
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One told those gathered: “As a kid growing up in the mid-west, it’s a dream for me to see a state like Washington taking a stand to legitimise non-binary identities, when a lot of the time we’re really invisible in a whole lot of places.”
Tobias Gurl also opened up to the room, saying: “I’m grateful to be living in a time when trans people are beginning to be treated with fairness, understanding, and compassion, and to be living and working in a state where we are receiving more recognition than ever before.”
Nic Sakurai, an agender DC resident, was the first American to ever receive a gender-neutral identification form.
They said: “I don’t feel that sense of gender as something that is part of my core innate experience.”
“I’m glad to finally have an ID that actually matches who I am.”