Residents of Oregon will soon have the option of “M,” “F” or “X” when selecting their gender on state identification cards and driver’s licenses. By giving citizens a “non-specified” option, Oregon becomes the first state to legally recognize non-binary individuals on ID cards. Under this new measure, people will be able to self-report their gender instead of having to provide supporting paperwork from medical or mental health providers.
In Oregon alone, 20,000 residents identify as transgender, and many of these individuals also identify as non-binary, meaning they might identify with no gender rather than one specific gender, or as a gender other than male or female. Besides simply wanting their true identity recognized, a report from the National Center for Transgender Equality found that individuals whose IDs do not match their preferred gender sometimes also face safety issues. About one-third of respondents who have shown an ID with a name or gender that didn’t match their gender presentation said they faced harassment, were denied service or in some cases were even assaulted.
This development was precipitated by a ruling last year by an Oregon judge allowing Jamie Shupe the right to legally identify as non-binary. Shupe has stated, “My gender identity has never been male, but I feel like I have to own up to my male biology. Being non-binary allows me to do that. I’m a mixture of both. I consider myself as a third sex.”
Other states may soon follow Oregon’s lead and give individuals the option to be legally recognized as non-binary if they so choose. California is currently trying to instate a similar policy, but unlike in Oregon, that will require a legislative vote.