California moved one step closer to officially recognizing a third gender on Wednesday. The state Senate passed a bill that would allow Californians to choose gender non-binary for identifying documents like drivers licenses and birth certificates. Non-binary refers to people who don’t identify as male or female.
Current law requires people seeking to change their gender on official documents to submit documentation proving medical treatment. The Gender Recognition Act would instead allow people to choose the gender they identify most with.
“It would take some time obviously to put into place, but that opportunity would be there where it currently doesn't exist,” said Jo Michael, who works as the Legislative Manager for Equality California. “That would mean a great deal to a lot of people who use identification every day that doesn't reflect who they are.”
Michael expects the bill to pass the Assembly within the next few weeks where it will then head to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. If the governor signs it, the new option would become available in January 2018.