Governor Brown Signs Toni Atkins’ SB 179, Creating Third Gender Marker for State IDs

October 16, 2017

Gov. Jerry Brown today signed SB 179, legislation authored by Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) that will create a third gender marker on state-issued identification documents for people who identify as nonbinary or intersex. The bill will also streamline the process for transgender, intersex and nonbinary Californians to obtain identification documents that accurately reflect their gender.

“I want to thank Governor Brown for recognizing how difficult it can be for our transgender, nonbinary and intersex family members, friends and neighbors when they don’t have an ID that matches their gender presentation. The Gender Recognition Act will eliminate unnecessary stress and anxiety for many Californians, and it exemplifies the leadership role that our state continues to take in LGBTQ civil rights.

“I have dear friends in San Diego and around the state who have been waiting a long time for this,” Atkins added. “I’m happy I was in a position to move this forward.”

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 nonbinary gender marker on birth certificates.

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 For example, it removes the outdated requirement that applicants submit a physician’s letter stating that they have undergone appropriate medical treatment toward their gender transition and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

SB 179 was jointly authored by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who said, “With the passage of SB 179, California continues its fight for a more inclusive society, even as some in Washington continue to undermine the LGBTQ community. With Governor Brown’s signature on this bill, transgender and nonbinary people will now be able to be who they are, not who society forces them to be. For too long society has forced people into gender boxes. It’s time for government to get out of the way and let people live their lives authentically as who they are.

“I am proud to have partnered with Senator Atkins to pass the Gender Recognition Act,” Wiener added, “and I look forward to continuing our fight for LGBTQ equality.”

Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center, a sponsor of the bill, said, “With this simple change, California has made daily life infinitely safer and easier for many gender nonbinary and transgender people. We’re asked for identification everywhere from banks to bars to airports, and it can be devastating and even dangerous for nonbinary and transgender people to navigate life with an ID that doesn’t reflect who they truly are.”

Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, also a bill sponsor, said, “Gov. Brown’s signature today has put California at the forefront of ensuring the dignity and safety of its transgender, nonbinary and gender-non-conforming residents. When your ID doesn’t match your gender identity or expression, it can expose you to a potentially dangerous situation. SB 179 eliminates unnecessary obstacles from the process of getting state-issued identification documents for thousands of Californians.”