That makes California the first state in the country to officially allow nonbinary as a gender option on a statewide level, including on driver’s licenses, birth certificates and identity cards. And for these California residents, the legislation means a new kind of recognition.
Oregon took a similar step earlier in 2017, becoming the first state to provide a third gender option on driver’s licenses by allowing residents to mark “X” rather than male or female.
“I think that this legislation and legislation like this is enormously important because it creates visibility,” Seven Graham, a Los Angeles-based playwright and comedian who identifies as intersex and nonbinary, said in a phone interview with Mic on Tuesday.
Graham, who was born in the U.K. and moved to California in 2015, said they had delayed getting a California driver’s license because they were hopeful this legislation would soon pass — and because getting a license marked “male” or “female” would feel like a lie.
“It’s the important things, like your passport, like your driver’s license, that are really important in how you move through the world and how you’re perceived,” Graham said. They added that carrying a passport that marks them “female” when they’re actually nonbinary makes them feel “queasy.”
“I have this passport, it’s basically a document that enshrines lies,” Graham said. Graham came out publicly as intersex in a 2006 essay in the Independent. Like many intersex children, Graham underwent surgery as a child without their consent. Graham said they hoped legislative changes like this one could translate into greater acceptance for intersex and gender-nonconforming young people.
“Society is not going to change until everybody knows that intersex people exist ... and that we have a right to choose who we are, to be nonbinary or male or female,” Graham said. “This legislation puts it in the public domain.” Read more via Mic