By Cassandra Manz
“Oregon and Washington D.C. lead the way in creating options for non-binary legal identification”
This past awards season non-binary Billions star Asia Kate Dillon presented MTV’s first gender neutral acting award to actress Emma Watson. The award is groundbreaking in an industry where acting awards are traditionally separated into categories based on gender, like Best Actor and Best Actress.
The neutral accolade is part of a growing recognition, and legitimization, of individuals who identify as non-binary. Non-binary, also known as genderqueer, is a term used to define gender identities that don’t adhere to our society’s set gender binary of male and female.
This growing awareness is not only limited to the entertainment industry.
Last year, Jamie Shupe became the first person in the United States to legally identify as non-binary. The Oregon state court granted the new identification after Shupe, a military veteran, had applied for a gender change.
Although Shupe was granted this legal milestone, they had difficulty obtaining a new driver’s license and passport that adhered to their identified gender because the options for identity were limited to male and female, “M” and “F.”
However, after a year of research by LGBTQ advocacy groups and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Oregon became the first state to offer “X” as an option on driver’s licenses and identification cards, officially recognizing intersex, agender, and non-binary individuals.
Only a few weeks later, on June 27, the Washington D.C DMV issued its first gender neutral driver’s license to Nik Sakurai, officially implementing the new district policy to allow non-binary gender identification on driver’s licenses.
California recently followed suit and introduced legislation in the state legislature that will allow for the option of non-binary on driver’s licenses.
These recent policies and court decisions are landmark decisions in the fight for recognition and equal treatment of non-binary genders. It is heartening that non-binary folks will not be forced to mark a box they don’t feel comfortable or identify with. Instead, they will be able to check a box or choose an option marked “X,” designating non-binary. This option, as opposed to only having “M” or “F,” allows for the reality of gender being not black or white, one or the other, but rather a spectrum.
Clearly, this is not the reality for all non-binary individuals in the country but it is a hopeful beginning.
For now, one can identify as non-binary on driver’s licenses and identification cards in Oregon and Washington D.C. While we wait for the rest of the country to jump on board with this, individuals can use Planned Parenthood as a space to discuss gender identity and ask questions. In addition, Planned Parenthood offers Hormonal Replacement therapy for individuals who may choose this option to match, in their own way, the gender they identify with.