Assembly passes Gender Recognition Act, advancing LGBTQ civil rights in California

The California Assembly Wednesday passed SB 179, legislation authored by Sen. Toni Atkins that would create a third gender marker on state-issued identification documents for people who identify as nonbinary or intersex. The bill would also streamline the process for transgender, intersex and nonbinary Californians to obtain identification documents that accurately reflect their gender.

The bill now heads back to the Senate for concurrence with amendments made in the Assembly. From there, it goes to the governor for his signature.

“Many of us have an ID that matches our gender presentation, and so showing it is hassle-free,” said Atkins (D-San Diego). “But for Californians who have an ID that does not match their gender presentation, showing it at airports, in shops or to law enforcement can be extremely stressful and lead to harassment or a delay in completing a transaction. It doesn’t need to be this way. SB 179 will make things a lot easier for our transgender, nonbinary and intersex friends and neighbors.”

SB 179, also known as the Gender Recognition Act, would make California the second state in the nation – following Oregon – to allow residents to be identified by a gender marker other than “F” or “M” on their driver’s license and the first to allow a third gender marker on birth certificates.

It would also make it easier for residents to receive a gender change from state agencies and the courts. For example, it removes the outdated requirement that applicants obtain a physician’s letter stating that they have undergone appropriate medical treatment and replaces it with self-attestation.

Atkins wished to thank Sen. Scott Wiener, joint author of SB 179, for his partnership on the bill and his leadership on LGBTQ issues.

Wiener said, “California is once again leading the way toward full equality for our LGBTQ community and a more inclusive society. We need to make it easier for transgender and gender non-conforming people to live their lives as who they are, not who society says they’re supposed to be. In particular, our LGBTQ youth need to know that we support them and want them to succeed as their authentic selves. I want to thank Senator Atkins for her strong leadership on this issue. I’m proud to partner with her to help advance the rights of the LGBTQ community.”

Atkins also expressed gratitude to the advocacy groups that helped her get SB 179 through the Legislature, particularly the Transgender Law Center, Equality California and the Intersex and Genderqueer Recognition Project, and all those individuals who testified in support of the bill before various policy committees.