SACRAMENTO — Californians who do not identify as male or female will have a third gender option on driver’s licenses and birth certificates under a bill Gov. Jerry Brown signed Sunday.
SB179 makes California the first state in the country to offer the third gender marker on birth certificates for nonbinary people who want their personal documents to match their gender identity. Nonbinary is an umbrella term for people who do not consider themselves strictly male or female, but instead fall outside those gender norms.
The new law also applies to driver’s licenses and provides other reforms sought by LGBTQ groups, such as creating a process for parents of a transgender youth to apply to change the gender listed on their child’s birth certificate. The legislation was carried by state Sens. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco.
“It’s an emotionally wonderful thing,” Atkins said Monday from her Capitol office. “It’s like marriage equality when there was a feeling your government and community acknowledges who you are. You have the right to be who you are. This is that same feeling.”
The bill’s signing was announced minutes before the midnight deadline Sunday and was one of 859 bills signed by Brown this year. Brown vetoed 118 bills. Atkins said she stayed up to see if Brown had signed the bill Sunday. Brown had not previously indicated whether he would, and Atkins said she “didn’t know where he would be on this.”
While most bills go into effect Jan. 1, the added gender option for driver’s licenses will be effective Jan. 1, 2019.
Tone Lee-Bias of Sacramento is eagerly awaiting that day. Lee-Bias, a nonbinary 20-year-old, said there is something heartening about having government documents reflect a person’s gender identity.
“I’ve always accepted myself and I’m open and proud of my identity, but I feel like having an ID that reflects my gender and who I am means that it’s not up for debate anymore,” Lee-Bias said. “It’s a boost of confidence to be validated and affirmed by people who were willing to listen to us.”