California Now Recognizes a Third Gender

Max, a 13-year-old Californian who identifies as agender, one of multiple gender identities that fall into the umbrella of 'nonbinary.' The state will allow residents to choose nonbinary as an official gender on drivers licenses and birth certificates starting in 2019. (Bert Johnson/KQED)

Gender is no longer either male or female, according to the state of California.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed into law legislation that recognizes a third gender option for driver’s licenses and birth certificates. Starting in 2019, Californians will be able to identify themselves as not just male or female, but “nonbinary.”

The bill was one of many Brown left to the last day of the Oct. 15 deadline to either sign or veto.

California joins Oregon and Washington D.C. in creating the third gender option on driver’s licenses. New York state may follow suit. Unlike California, Oregon and Washington have not passed an actual law enacting the change, and neither accommodates a revision on birth certificates. Countries that recognize a third gender include Australia, Germany and India.

The legislation, SB 179, from state Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), also rescinds the requirement that individuals who want to change their gender must submit a sworn statement from a physician declaring they have undergone clinical treatment. That change takes effect Sept. 1, 2018.

“With Governor Brown’s signature on this bill, transgender and non-binary people will now be able to identify themselves as they are, not as who society tells them they should be,” said Wiener, in a statement.

The new law not only addresses the experience of inter-sex people — those individuals born with ambiguous sexual characteristics — but also codifies a growing trend among transgender youth who eschew a traditional gender identity, decoupling it from not only their innate physiology, but from the notion that only males and females exist.

A 2015 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality found a third of the almost 28,000 respondents chose “nonbinary/genderqueer” when given a choice of terms to best describe themselves.

“The binary gender designations of female and male fail to adequately represent the diversity of human experience,” SB 179 states. “Nonbinary is an umbrella term for people with gender identities that fall somewhere outside of the traditional conceptions of strictly either female or male. ”

Courts in Oregon and California have already granted requests by residents to change their gender to a third type. In California, dozens of people have petitioned courts to make the change.

One person who will benefit from the law is Jak Kazmarek, a KQED employee who has identified as nonbinary for 17 years. Kazmarek uses the pronoun “they” instead of “he” or “she,” something many nonbinary people do to reflect a gender identification outside the traditional male or female.

Kazmarek says they were the 25th person in California to petition a court for a gender change to nonbinary, a request the court granted in May. But the change had no practical effect — there is currently no  option to list your gender as anything other than male or female on a driver’s license.

“Right now, when somebody looks at an ID and they look at me, they don’t see female,” Kazmarek said. “They also don’t see male, though. That exposes me to a lot of questions. It’s a really vulnerable place to be.”

Kazmarek said that the state’s sanction of nonbinary identity is “huge.”

“It means that when somebody looks at my license, it’s not going to be as confusing to them.”

Ending the requirement that a physician sign off on someone’s change of gender will also have a big effect, Kazmarek said.

“I’ve been very privileged because I live in an area where people support me.  There’s a lot of people that live in other areas where it’s difficult to find a doctor that’s willing to write that note.”

Opposition to the bill has come mostly from Christian groups. It did not appear to have much effect: The bill passed the Senate 26-12 and the Assembly 57-21.

The issue of whether or not to recognize a third gender is headed for a day of reckoning on the federal level, too.  Last November, Colorado U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson remanded the case of Dana Zzyym back to the U.S. State Department after Lambda Legal, on behalf of Zzyym, sued the department for denying Zzyym’s application for a passport. The agency rejected the request because Zzyym did not choose male or female on the application.

“I find that the administrative record contains no evidence that the Department followed a rational decision-making process in deciding to implement its binary-only gender passport policy,” Jackson wrote in his decision. “Therefore, the proper next step is to remand the case to the Department to give it an opportunity either to shore up the record, if it can, or reconsider its policy.”

But the State Department declined Zzyym’s application again, in May. The court then granted a motion to reopen the case.

California Now Recognizes a Third Gender 19 October,2017Jon Brooks

  • Curious

    The inmates have taken over the asylum.

    • Jason

      Can’t we just have a system where you circle if you have a penis or vagina?

      • Curious

        Apparently not anymore.

      • Scott Russell Cheek

        A) Genitalia are not public business where I live. We wear clothing.
        B) That being said, your comment can also be countered with the question: What if you have neither? There are also many conditions people are born with that make them not fit into male or female categories in physiology or genetics.

        • Jason

          Please elaborate on B. As far as A is concerned, ehhh

          • Clio CJL

            “ehhh” is such a cogent and great point. You won.

          • Jason

            Good

          • Semischolar

            You could start by looking up the word hermaphrodite. And, back on A, I really don’t want to have to whip out my pud every time I get pulled over by the police or the TSA.

          • Jason

            Quite aware of what a hermaphrodite is, but scott is making it seem like there was more to it. Well the TSA might want to assign someone to grab your junk so they might need to know whats going on

          • Semischolar

            Well, there IS more to it – the suggestion to look up “hermaphrodite” was just a starting point. It was a suggestion in answer to your “Please elaborate on B” request (“There are also many conditions people are born with that make them not
            fit into male or female categories in physiology or genetics.”)

    • Greg Gilreath

      for real

    • Thomas E. Witty, Ph.D., ABPP

      You got that right. Delusions are now reality. The truth is all subjective now.

  • Bill T.

    I’m straight but who am I to deny anyone of their right to be themself. It certainly doesn’t take any food off of my table.

  • Billie Hill Lewis

    How does something so idiotic, moronic and stupid become possible? Idiots have taken over and normal, decent and moral people have lost control. God is our only hope.

    • Bill T.

      Does your God give you the authority to label and call people names? If so, I’m glad I don’t know him/she/them.

      • Bob Ueckerlele

        Of course her god does. The gods of cows moo, the gods of human garbage condone spreading filth. QED.

      • Billie Hill Lewis

        Pretending to be a gender you were not born as is as stupid as you think my God is. My God has given me a brain to know what is right or wrong. Denying how God made you is a mental illness and needs to be treated as such. Telling them they are normal is a sin, both for the person and for you. God will deal with sin and it won’t be pretty. You can sit there and deny the existence of God, but you will be the fool.

        • Thomas E. Witty, Ph.D., ABPP

          Could you leave religion out of this & stick to the facts? You’re right but no reason to use judgmental words to make your point. You’ll sound like a bigot.

    • Terrie Taylor

      So true!

    • Dre_loves_Trump

      Luckily for now it’s only happening on the west coast but I do see this insanity spreading to other parts of the country…

  • Kelly Reed

    “Kazmarek uses the pronoun ‘they’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’…”
    But this is inaccurate. Kazmarek doesn’t “use” the word “they.” Kazmarek uses the words “I” and “me” and demands that others use the word “they.” That infringes upon the freedom of speech that every American should be allowed. I can’t force and shouldn’t be allowed to force anyone to call me whatever I want. That’s not how language and speech work. We get to choose a set of proper nouns that others use to address us, our legal name. We don’t get to choose pronouns. THAT IS NOT HOW LANGUAGE AND SPEECH WORK.

    • Scott Russell Cheek

      Language absolutely works that way. Do I use the words “thee” and “thou”? No, because language is always changing. If that seems too far removed from today, consider instead a dictionary from 1950. It’s going to be different from a current dictionary because words and their definitions are always changing.

      In any case, I don’t know why you wouldn’t treat someone with the respect to refer to them in the manner they prefer. I could call you “Moldy Cheese Face,” but it would be rude.

      • Kelly Reed

        Of course that would be rude. I have a proper name just as you have a proper name, and that’s the only label we get to choose for ourselves. Everything else is decided by the majority of language users, not a tiny minority who’ve decided the entire language has to change in a very specific way in order to make them happy.

        I concede that language changes over time. I wasn’t trying to say it doesn’t (so, nice job on the straw man). My point is that small groups or individuals don’t get to dictate how the majority of language users refer to them. If your job is a police officer, I’m going to call you a police officer even if you demand that people call you a circus clown instead. You don’t get to decide, either on your own or with your small group of friends, that “circus clown” now means “police officer.” That is not in your power to decide. THAT is my point about how language and speech works. It’s not your choice. You’re not that special. Language changes as the majority changes, not merely because niche groups want it very badly to.

        • Bob Ueckerlele

          Wherever a conversation about societal evolution occurs, there will be a fragile white man verbally confusing the Bill of Rights with a hall pass to be a terrible human – Internet Rule 245

          • Kelly Reed

            Sling about all the ad hominem attacks you like; they don’t actually make me a terrible human or make your case any stronger. I can love people while refusing to concede to what I consider to be their unreasonable societal demands. I wish people weren’t confused about what gender they are. I wish they had peace of mind. I wish happiness for them. However, I do not think that feeding this sociopolitical beast of enabling is the helpful or caring thing to do.

          • Clio CJL

            It’s not ad hominem when you are literally a walking, steaming pile of feces.

          • ad faecem

          • Kelly Reed

            Ha ha ha! That made me laugh. Thank you.

          • Thomas E. Witty, Ph.D., ABPP

            Me too.

          • Jim

            Resorting to name calling in a debate is a sure sign of a feeble intellect, since you apparently can’t make any better argument.

          • Thomas E. Witty, Ph.D., ABPP

            Thanks Jim. That’s all they do. They can’t tolerate facts that don’t comprehend so they take the low road.

          • Bob Ueckerlele

            In summary: you agree that you’re a fragile white man using the Bill of Rights as a hall pass to be a terrible human.

          • Kelly Reed

            That’s not a summary; that’s merely repetition. Also, no, I don’t agree that I’m being a terrible human. Do you happily concede to what you consider to be the unreasonable societal demands of others? Would that also make you a terrible human if you didn’t? Or maybe I’m terrible for wishing that others were happy and well adjusted? Or maybe you’re just being obtuse.

          • Bob Ueckerlele

            What one may “consider to be the unreasonable societal demands” is irrelevant. If you misgender me, you aren’t going to see a societal punishment, you’re going to get a fist in the eye. That’s how reality works. If you have a problem with treating folk with respect, you’ll get used to bruises. That said, your ilk tend to be quite vocal in anonymity and yet (much to society’s benefit) straight up cowards in general. I am confident that your posturing is simply the sad little moan of a sad little man with nothing better to do than argue with zero consequences. Prove me wrong, go get you that black eye, coward.

          • Kelly Reed

            Wow. Moving from mere ad hominem to actual threats of physical violence… Did you bully the other kids in grade school too, or is that just an Internet thing? You sound like an alt-right conservative, demanding that people say and believe only what you want them to, lest you punch them in the face. That’s not what a civilized society looks like, in my opinion.

          • Bob Ueckerlele

            OH sweetie. Informing you of the consequences of your actions isn’t bullying but I can see that your privilege being undermined might make you feel that way. How adorable. As stated by the Wu-Tang Clan, don’t start none, won’t be none.

          • Kelly Reed

            Threatening violence is very different from “informing someone of consequences.” Humans have and make choices. You’re saying that choosing to punch someone in the face for not doing and saying what you want is now “undermining privilege” instead of bullying. You’re like the thug in a movie, who breaks in to a home, ties a man to a chair, and pulls out a baseball bat, saying, “Tell me your safe code, or there will be consequences!” The man in the chair isn’t doing anything to you. Just stay out of the man’s house. Leave him alone. Ignore the man. He’s not threatening you. Nothing he is doing or not doing is hurting you. Yet you are demanding something unreasonable and, now, even threatening violence if you don’t get it. It boggles the mind.

          • Bob Ueckerlele

            OH sweetie. Informing you of the consequences of your actions isn’t bullying but I can see that your privilege being undermined might make you feel that way. How adorable. As stated by the Wu-Tang Clan, don’t start none, won’t be none.

          • Kelly Reed

            Um… okay. Your repetitiveness has become tedious. I think this conversation is over. Have a nice life.

          • Bob Ueckerlele

            Dear heart, there was never a conversation.

          • Thomas E. Witty, Ph.D., ABPP

            Right on Kelly. Society should not be enabling the mentally ill in their somatic delusions.

  • Jorge Viejo Nunez

    …… . :~) … Wow! So What Happen With The Rest?

    … The Agender, Genderless, Androgyne, Bigender, Genderqueer, Gender bender, Hijra, Pangender, and Queer heterosexuality.

  • First Name

    So hermaphrodites….

  • Clio CJL

    Hey old people – have fun shaking your fist at the world you don’t understand. It’s passed you by, and your time is over.

    • Lou

      “Generational warfare”, yea let’s spread this pronoun fiasco into even more Hate! Attempts to minimize, marginalize, & diminish folks is such a “progressive” point of view & here in the USA you are permitted to express your Hate filled point of view, but the world you & your ilk “think” you are creating is a wasteland of confusion, suicide, & in many cases, psychoses. Playing the “victim” is such a sad way to live.

      • Dre_loves_Trump

        Very well said my friend… progressives think they’re helping w/ these outrageous initiatives.. but I ask them.. why is anxiety disorders among the young at all time highs, why is obesity at all time highs.. why is opioid addiction at all time highs, if we’re more progressive today than at any time in history… Because just maybe all these progressive initiatives are counter productive and destructive… Let’s get back to the basics of parenting and common sense and watch some of these issues diminish

        • Pop Off!

          Progressive have kind of made it a free for AND progressive have a HUGE problem of infighting. Every snowflakes needs there own label to be unique and their own letter to go under the rainbow flag. It is tiring and really does just create fights. I think this specific thing in fine in theory but most of society is not yet ready to handle it and so when the officer or whoever looks at that and sees non binary… UGH. The targeting and profiling that will go on..

    • David H.

      What other groups of people do you dislike?

    • Roger Leonard

      Old people (most anyway) are smarter than you.

    • Greg Gilreath

      do you even cringe bro?

    • BIG AL

      You speak as though you will never grow old.
      Of course, many in your garbage generation will not have the privilege of reaching old age….thank God!

  • David Beary

    How would this change anything about birth certificates, which describe physical characteristics (i.e., sex)? Would parents be permitted to assign their newborns a gender identity?

    • Greg Gilreath

      that would be child abuse.

  • zephr303

    What’s next? Taking Science out of our schools? Apparently, science doesn’t matter. But, they prove global warming by science but you can’t tell gender with science?

  • Roger Leonard

    God made male and female. (Genesis 1:27). Man came up with this so-called third gender. When people think they are smarter than God, look how foolish they really are.

    • Greg Gilreath

      we dont even have to go the biblical route its science. boys have a pee pee and girls have a vagina. Girls who have a pee pee are boys. Men who have vaginas are girls. clothes and pro nouns are larping. Fantasies are fun we get it.

  • Greg Gilreath

    lol i love how this is on the science page….lol anyone?

    • Thomas E. Witty, Ph.D., ABPP

      Good question. I can’t decide if I should laugh or cry. Science news? Really?

  • Ado Christian

    X & Y chromosome pairs don’t lie, and there is a pair in every cell of a person’s body. If someone thinks they are living in a body of the incorrect sex,they need a psychiatrist, not a plastic surgeon.

  • Roger Leonard

    How about “sexually mutilated freak” for an orientation? People are so confused when they ignore God’s explanations.

  • BIG AL

    All the more reason I’m glad I don’t live in California.

  • Greg Feneis

    Kudos!

    Why is this article in a section called KQED Science?

    • Thomas E. Witty, Ph.D., ABPP

      Good question. Looks like ideology to me, not science

  • tommariner

    Initially interesting because of our changing society, but in reality, who cares! A person’s integrity counts more. We’re all Americans in this together and should demand no prejudice.

    Yes, we have to quickly address reports of discrimination, but groups who separate themselves from the rest of us for historical reasons could be motivated by the electoral power they have used to wield effectively. Is it to stop prejudice or gain gifts and power?

  • anonymot

    California IS a 3rd gender. Homo sapiens sans the sapiens just the sappy part. Land of the apey.

  • anonymot

    Many millions of us are sensitive to those who are real transgenders, but what we are opposed to is the selling of LGBT as the most effective social movement since Black Power. The LGBT movement actually has corporate sales companies (one is owned by Barry Diller) and is very well financed.

    Those in the small percent of any area of real LGB or T deserve our full and honest respect. The sales movement of the LGBT Brand does not.

    When I lived in Paris I had a neighbor who was old, an accomplished painter who all of the Montparnasse art community knew, from Picasso to Chagall, etc. His difference was physically apparent. Yet no one made a big deal out of it, because he was just another human variation. Just like your face doesn’t resemble your neighbor’s.

    What’s lacking in America is Respect for Differences.

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