This past May, California senators quietly introduced SB-179 Gender identity: female, male, or non-binary. also known as the Gender Recognition Act.
The bill has since passed all major committee votes, which places it more than halfway through the California Assembly’s bill process. The final approval by the California Assembly and Governor Brown still needs to happen.
Related: Canada’s Gender Identity Bill
Senator Toni Atkins is the author of the bill, which seeks to add a non-binary gender option for driver’s licenses, birth certificates and other identity cards. It would also add non-binary to court orders dealing with gender change.
Atkins had a related bill pass recently, SB-310, which would grant incarcerated persons the right to ask a court for a name or gender change.
What The Gender Recognition Act Does
- Removes requirement to first “undergone clinically appropriate treatment” for anyone seeking to obtain a new birth certificate from the California State Registrar. Removing that requirement means that anyone can apply for and obtain a new birth certificate to change their gender.
- Totally removes any oversight, input or advice from a medical or psychological professional from the identification documentation process.
- The minimum age requirement for changing the gender on one’s ID or identifying documentation is completely removed.
- Instructs that a minor can get new documents if they have approval from just one parent. If one of the parents objects, that parent has to appear in court and “show cause” for their objections.
- Allow parents to change their child’s legal gender without consulting with any type of child development specialist, physician, psychologist or psychiatrist.
What the Gender Recognition Act Does Not Do
- Fails to define “Transgender.”
- Fails to define “Non-binary.”
- Fails to list qualifying criteria for determining whether someone is Transgender or Non-binary.
SB-179 Can Only End In Chaos
What this bill ultimately does is remove all legal statuses for male and female from their accompanying biological realities.
The bill is ironically titled the Gender Recognition Act — the act actually is doing the opposite. Male or Female will legally be reduced to mean nothing.
Does it make the California ID cards or licenses worthless for traveling? How about for applying for national documentation like a passport or a VISA? Arguably so on both accounts.
The ramifications are far-reaching. Everything from K-12 schools to prisons and from employment to medical records will be impacted.
Consider a trip to the airport as an example. How does a TSA screen a person who presents non-binary documents?
Who does the pat down if one is needed?
Is this person identifying as female today? Male? Neither?
Imagine that TSA screener getting the non-binary person’s identity wrong.
What if screeners make the logical and reality bases assumption that the person is male or female?
Lawsuits are flying fast and furious now just over bathrooms. Imagine the legal food fight that will ensue due non-binary identification being used in an airport security line.
Or here’s another scenario. You’ve just sent little Susie off to college. Her tuition has already been hiked. Why? Its been hiked because the school, under Title IX, now is required to have a non-binary dormitory, sports teams and other accommodations. The school isn’t going to pay for that. You are.
California is a state well-known for being extremely progressive, but SB-179 impacts more than just their own citizens. This bill, should it become law, will only end in chaos. And not just in California.