Recent changes in legislation have led to the addition of Gender X as a legally recognized and widely accepted gender marking on formal documents making a gender-neutral passport, gender-neutral driver’s license, and gender-neutral birth certificate a reality. More than ten states in the United States, including California, now provide individuals with the option of obtaining a non-binary birth certificate. At the same time, individuals can now decide to indicate Gender X on one’s birth certificate at the time of birth.
What is a Gender-Neutral Birth Certificate?
A non-binary birth certificate is an individual’s birth certificate identifying their birth gender as non-binary. An individual who identifies as non-binary does not identify with the traditionally recognized male or female genders or socially recognized man or women identities. As of 2019, California law defines non-binary as an umbrella-like term that applies to any individual whose gender identity does not align with the traditional gender identities of male or female. The only difference between a non-binary birth certificate and a male or female birth certificate is the gender marking. On these birth certificates, an individual can now mark Gender X instead of the traditional male or female gender marking. Presently, 13 states in the United States allow non-binary individuals to use the Gender X Marking on birth certificates. Alongside California, these states are:
- Rhode Island
- Washington D.C.
- New York
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
Though the Gender X Marking on Birth Certificates has not been made accessible to all non-binary individuals across the entire United States, LGBTQ+ Policy Activists are continually advocating for developing more gender-inclusive policies. In the above listed 13 United States, the addition of the Gender X Marking on birth certificates is an example of these gender-inclusive policies.
Marking Gender X On a Birth Certificate:
California state legislation guarantees the ability to mark gender X on legal documents such as birth certificates so children or non-binary individuals may express themselves more freely. For new parents, the addition of the Gender X Marker allows them to protect the liberty of their children when expressing their gender. Explicitly, LGBTQ+ Policy Advocates argue that by using the Gender X Marker on their child(ren) ’s birth certificates, parents are:
- Reserving the right of their child to self-identify themselves.
- For parents of intersex children, the addition of the marking may relieve some pressure of identifying the child’s children amidst biological abnormalities.
- Allows the child(ren) to legally identify as their chosen gender identity for their entire life, eliminating the risk of potential mental strain caused by gender transition and re-identification.
The addition of the Gender X Marking on birth certificates allows parents to give their child(ren) the opportunity to self-identity from the beginning. Additionally, it also provides individuals with biological abnormalities, such as intersex individuals, to express themselves freely without the often discriminatory constraints of traditional gender markers.
Obtaining a Non-Binary Birth Certificate:
The process of obtaining a Gender-Neutral Birth Certificate differs depending on the individual’s circumstances. The process remains the same for new parents wishing to obtain a non-binary birth certificate for their newborn. The only difference is that when completing the birth certificate, the parents will mark Gender X for their child instead of marking either of the traditional male or female gender markers. However, the option of having a Gender-Neutral, or Non-Binary Birth Certificate, is not exclusive to newborn children in California. Individuals of any age who wish to indicate their gender as non-binary on their birth certificate may do so.
Obtaining a Non-Binary Certificate of Birth in California, as an Adult:
Since adding the Gender X Marking in California, individuals wishing to change their gender and name on legal documentation no longer require a court order to recognize and establish the gender change so that one may apply for a new birth certificate. Since this change, individuals wishing to change their gender on their birth certificate may now do so by going directly to the California State Registrar. However, individuals who wish to change their gender marking and name simultaneously on their birth certificate will need to obtain a court order recognizing the gender change. The requirement is because California State law still requires a court order to recognize and establish a legal name change for reflection on legal documents. The California Court System breaks down obtaining a new birth certificate into the following seven steps.
Changing to Gender X on a Birth Certificate as an Adult:
Complete All Necessary Court Forms.
Individuals applying for a new birth certificate must fill out multiple required forms online or on paper. Generally, there are six required forms, but some courts may require an individual to file additional paperwork. To access these forms through the online portal, click here.
Have all completed forms reviewed for completion and accuracy.
Before filing, make copies of all completed forms.
After making the necessary copies and reviewing having the forms by an attorney or state employee, file all completed forms with the court.
Step five may not be necessary, depending on the case. If anyone objects to one’s case within six weeks of filing, they may be required to attend a court hearing. However, if no one objects, one’s filing will most likely be approved without requiring a hearing.
Pick up your decree! After the court has approved your filing, the judge will issue a Decree Changing Name and Gender. This document is necessary for filing for a new birth certificate with both the gender and name change. Step six is to pick up the document.
Lastly, step 7 is to change the information by applying for your new birth certificate. Within California, an individual should take their decree to the State’s Registrar Office within 30 days.
Individuals who receive a new birth certificate that indicates their gender identity and name change will not automatically receive a new driver’s license or state-issued ID. Individuals should refer to the California Court’s website for information relating to these processes.
Contact Pride Legal
If you or a loved one need assistance with the addition of Gender X to U.S. Birth Certificates, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.