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CA senators submit bill to easily change gender on official state documents

Senator Atkins and Senator Wiener introducing SB 179.

California Senators Toni Atkins (D) and Scott Weiner (D) put forth, on Thursday, Senate Bill 179 (SB179) - The Gender Recognition Act of 2017, that would make it  easier for transgender, intersex and nonbinary people to obtain state-issued identity documents that accurately reflect their gender.

Senator Atkins said in a statement that society is becoming more enlightened about gender identity every day.

“It’s time for our state to make it easier for transgender Californians and those who don’t conform to traditional notions of gender to have state-issued identification documents that reflect who they truly are,” said Sen. Atkins. “This bill will help them avoid the discrimination and harassment that too many of these residents face in their daily lives.”

The bill proposes to add a third non-binary information marker on birth certificates, driver’s licenses and other official identification documents.

The bill should it become law would also allow people who want to change their gender on these documents a less complicated process.

Presently anyone who wishes to change their gender on paper must have a doctor’s sworn statement about procedures done to them during the transition process.

Further, people who do not identify as male or female (non-binary) do not have a way to mark this distinction on legal paperwork.

“Our trans brothers and sisters are under attack in far too many parts of this country and this world,” said Sen. Weiner. “Now, more than ever, California must lead on trans inclusion and ensure that our entire community can live with dignity and respect. This legislation is an overdue step forward.”

Senators Atkins and Wiener’s legislation would:

  • Remove the requirement to obtain a physician’s sworn statement;
  • Ensure that those filing petitions for gender-change court orders, as well as corresponding name-change court orders, need not appear in court for a hearing unless someone has filed timely objections to their petitions;
  • Create a process by which individuals younger than 18 years old can apply for a change in gender on their birth certificate; and
  • Create a third gender marker for nonbinary individuals seeking to amend their gender on birth certificates, driver’s licenses and state identification cards, and in gender change court orders.

Transgender Law Center executive director Kris Hayashi applauds SB 179 because it would effectively modernize outdated and marginalizing laws which cause many people to suffer harassment and ridicule for basic services.

“SB 179 will help California lead the way in reducing these barriers and help ensure that everyone can be legally recognized for who they are and can move safely through the world,” said Hayashi.