A bill proposed in the California Senate would make California the first state in the country to allow non-binary residents – those who self-identify as neither male nor female – to choose an alternate gender marker on state-issued identity documents.

The bill, SB 179 – dubbed the Gender Recognition Act of 2017 – authored by state Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), would also make it easier for transgender, intersex or non-binary Californians to obtain state identification documents that accurately reflect their gender.

“California is a national leader on LGBTQ rights,” Atkins said at a news conference when she announced the bill’s introduction. “The Gender Recognition Act is the next big step down a path that all others, eventually, will follow.”

In addition to creating a new gender marker, SB 179 removes several barriers that make it onerous for people seeking name- and gender-change court orders or seeking a gender change on birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and identity cards.

One of the most significant of those is the requirement of a physician’s sworn statement certifying the extent of medical treatment received by someone during their gender transition. Another is a requirement for a person seeking a gender-change or name-change court order to appear in court even if nobody has filed objections to their petition.

The bill also creates a process by which individuals younger than 18 can apply for a change in gender on their birth certificate.

“Showing our I.D. is a part of daily life – at stores when we use our credit card, when we order a drink at the bar, when we go through airport security, when we apply for a bank account, or when we apply for a job,” Atkins said. “And for someone who has an I.D. with a gender that doesn’t match their gender presentation, things can get difficult – everything from a delay in completing what should be a mundane task to outright harassment.”

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