Third Gender Option Set to Go Into Effect on Washington State Birth Certificates

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Non-binary people in Washington State will soon have the option of changing their birth certificates to reflect a third gender category, ABC News reports. The change comes after Oregon made similar changes to state laws there; California is expected to follow suit.

In addition to "male" and "female," a new option - specified as "X" - will be possible. What's more, there will no longer be a need for a primary physical to approve when an adult changes the gender designation on their birth certificate, though a bureaucratic process will still apply; applicants for a change in gender status on their birth certificates will need to turn a notarized request in to the state's health department, the report noted. Minors will still need a medical professional, mental health counselor, or social worker to sign off, as well as permission from parents or legal guardians.

The Washington State Department of Health advises that the "X" designation indicates "a gender that is not exclusively male or female, including, but not limited to, intersex, agender, amalgagender, androgynous, bigender, demigender, female-to-male, genderfluid, genderqueer, male-to-female, neutrois, nonbinary, pangender, third sex, transgender, transsexual, Two Spirit, and unspecified."

The ABC News report quoted Washington state registrar Christine Spice as saying, "When a person's gender designation on their birth certificate doesn't match how people present themselves, it opens the door to harassment and intimidation."

The change has its limits, noted The News Tribune. Only those whose birthplace is Washington can change their birth certificates under the new rules. Also, newborns are excluded.

The need for non-binary and transgender people to change legal documents to reflect their innate gender is not limited to any particular state, of course., and absent federal protections transgender and non-binary people face a legal patchwork. Lambda Legal offers an online resource that serves as a guide for addressing the correction of birth certificates on a state-by-state basis.

The new rule goes into effect Jan. 27.

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