California Becomes First U.S. State To Legally Recognize Third Gender

Sunday, October 15, marked an unprecedented date in America's history as California has become the first state to legally recognize the third gender identity.

Based on the "Gender Recognition Act" signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, residents who don't identify as male or female now have the option to choose non-binary on state-issued identity documents, such as birth certificates and driver's licenses. The bill also removes the need to obtain a doctor's statement or appear in court for individuals who want to legally change gender.

(Photo: Dimitar Belchev via Unsplash)

The act was first proposed in January with the aim to "ensure that intersex, transgender, and non-binary people have state-issued identification documents that provide full legal recognition of their accurate gender identity." It was signed by California senators in June and has now been officially signed into law. According to the bill's co-author, Sen. Toni Atkins:

"The Gender Recognition Act will eliminate unnecessary stress and anxiety for many Californians, and it exemplifies the leadership role that our state continues to take in LGBTQ civil rights."

To those who may be confused as to why this is important, think about simple mundane things like traveling – if you're transgender, and your appearance doesn't correspond with the gender that's listed on your license, you can run into quite a bit of trouble with the officials. That's just one out of many examples.

Earlier this year, Canada made the same move by adding "X" option that signifies "gender-neutral" identity to their administrative documents.