California may make headlines again as Governor Jerry Brown is set to make a decision on a law that would allow Californians to change the gender on their state-issued identification to "X," meaning non-binary.
As the Chronicle reports, if Governor Brown were to sign the legislation into law, it would make California the first state to allow a non-binary gender designation on not only drivers licenses but also birth certificates and other state-issued identification. Previously, Oregon made headlines as the first state to allow its residents to identify as X on their driver's licenses, but nothing else beyond that.
Additionally, as we wrote about previously, this California law would loosen the restrictions on its residents' ability to change their name and gender markers. Specifically, people interested in applying for such a change would no longer be required to appear in court with a signed note from a medical professional that says they've been receiving medical treatment for being transgender (i.e., hormones and therapy and the like). It would also allow minors to change their gender marker as well, which is currently not allowed.
Showing proof of "medical treatment" is somewhat complicated, especially for non-binary people. There is no established "medical treatment" to speak of for people who happen to identify as being outside of the gender binary, and for many — including transgender people who identify within the binary — medical treatment may not even be a desired goal. Placing the ability to change one's ID behind such a divisive gate is reductive and doesn't reflect the needs of a population that continues to grow and expand as discourse surrounding gender evolves.
Of course, passing such a law would undoubtedly bring down criticisms from some other more Conservative, right-leaning states, many of whom have moved to outright restrict the rights of trans and non-binary people. Bathroom bills have been making their way around various state capitols, all with the intent of erasing a trans person's basic human right to use the bathroom.
Here, though, California's lawmakers have an opportunity to once again be at the vanguard of progress, possibly helping to usher in wider recognition for non-binary people.