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California Could Become the First State to Legalize Nonbinary Citizens


"My hope for this bill is that actually being nonbinary is a lot more normalized."

California is taking steps to legalize a nonbinary gender option on birth certificates. The California Gender Recognition Act, or Senate Bill 179, has already passed the Senate, and now just needs to make it through the General Assembly and the Governor's Office for anyone in California to have the ability to be federally recognized as outside the gender binary, Buzzfeedreports.

Sara Kelly Keenan, 55, and Star Hagen-Esquerra, 17, are recognized as two of the first people to achieve legal nonbinary status in California. They became the unofficial faces of the proposed bill when going through the difficult process of applying for their own official gender change.

Though it's certainly possible to go through a paperwork mania in local courts to have gender identity legally changed, Senate Bill 179 would make a nonbinary option easily available on all state-issued identification, including driver's licenses, birth certificates and ID cards. Democratic Senators Scott Weiner and Toni Atkins have been champions of getting the bill through the legal system.

Related | Jamie Shupe Becomes First Legally Non-Binary Person in the US

"My hope for this bill is that actually being nonbinary is a lot more normalized," Hagen-Esquerra told Buzzfeed.

The California Gender Recognition Act does a few things beyond adding a nonbinary option to state ID documents recognized at the federal level. The bill also eases the process of legally changing gender by no longer requiring a doctor's note or a physical appearance in court. It simplifies the process for minors to adjust their gender on birth certificates, as well.

"As the LGBT community--but especially the trans community--is under assault in this country, California needs to go in the opposite direction and embrace the trans community and support the trans community and modernize these laws," Weiner told LA Times.

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