Non-binary gender – What’s in it for me?Posted: March 18, 2017
The Intersex & Genderqueer Recognition Project (IGRP), the only legal organization in the U.S. to address the right of non-binary people to gender-self-identify on legal documents (founded in 2011) has seen an explosion of successes since June 2016. On 3/9/2017 we became a project of The Hub for Direct Community Action eligible for 501(c)3 tax deductible donations. We have received hundreds of requests for help getting people non-binary legal gender changes, and have been responsible for over 2/3 of the non-binary petitions granted in California.
I recently sent the following in an email response to a question from one prospective petitioner, and thought it was worth sharing:
The answer to “What precisely does changing my legal gender do for me?” is complicated.
- For some people, the personal feeling of being validated means a lot (one petitioner walked out of their hearing with tears of joy running down their face).
- For others, it’s a step towards changing their driver’s license (which is not possible for non-binary people yet, but will be soon, probably in both OR and CA)
- …or their birth certificate (which depends on what state you were born in… currently there have been birth certificates revised to something other than M or F in NY, DC, OH, and MI, and we have paperwork submitted for several people in CA).
- For some people they are excited to be one of the first, to have the opportunity to challenge the myth of the gender binary (and in the case of intersex people, the myth of sex being binary as well).
- For some people, they are willing to be in the news, be interviewed, to speak out to their friends and families, or talk to the legislature to help pass SB-179.
- For some they are willing to be a possible plaintiff in a future case against their state or the federal government to engage in “impact litigation” which will permanently change the laws and allow for equal recognition of all non-binary people.
What it means personally to you is up to you to decide. For you, maybe it’s better to wait until it becomes as easy as it is for binary trans people, and you can change all your ID at once. That may well be years off, if you are talking about Social Security records and Passports in the Federal government, and Birth Certificates and Drivers Licenses in every single state in the US.
This is kind of like the Marriage Equality movement (something I am extremely familiar with) where there was a strategy of starting in liberal states, and then “losing forward” in the middle of the country, and eventually getting rights in enough states to reach a “tipping point” and going to the US Supreme Court. Back in 2005 we called it our “2020 Vision,” which just goes to show how successful it was, since we won Obergefell in 2016.
IGRP is following a similar strategy to win Non-binary rights in the US. When the marriage movement was happening there were some people who wanted to wait, and that was what was best for them. There were other people who wanted to be in front of the issue, even if it meant heartbreak along the way (my wife and I were married to each other 5 times and were in the news constantly for years, and a lot of it was hard and painful.) Maybe you want to do that. Maybe you just want to get the court order now and apply for the drivers license when you can. Maybe you want to wait. You need to do what is right for YOU. We are here to support you in whatever that is.
Toby Adams, Attorney at Law / Pronouns: She, her
Executive Director/Legal Director
Intersex & Genderqueer Recognition Project (IGRP)