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Washington State now allowing third gender option

John Willoughby: Greene Publishing, Inc.

At the end of August 2017, a rule known as The Gender Recognition Act of 2017 was proposed to the Washington State Department of Health and now, the rule has been passed through passionate support and through criticism.

The act began on Saturday, Jan. 27, and residents of Washington State are now able to change their gender to “X,” a third option that has been added to the line up. The policy will let residents change existing documents; it does not apply to new documents.

The Washington State Department of Health defines X as a gender that is not exclusively male or female, including, but not limited to: intersex, agender, amalgagender, androgynous, bigender, demigender, female-to-male, genderfluid, genderqueer, male-to-femalie, neutrois, non-binary, pangender, third sex, transgender, transsexual, Two Spirit, and unspecified.

For adults who are seeking to change their gender on their existing birth certificates, the policy removes requirements of getting a doctor's letter. Minors who would like to change their birth certificate must have written consent of their parent/legal guardian and documentation from a licensed health care professional.

“It is vital that states catch up and acknowledge the reality of the non-binary community,” said Sarah Ellis, President and CEO of Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). A report from The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Question (LGBTQ) advocacy group shows that 20 percent of millennials (people born from the late 1980's to early 2000's) identify as LGBTQ.

According to a survey by transequality.org, 40 percent of respondents said they experienced harassment when they presented any kind of identification that did not match their gender. Three percent reported being attacked or assaulted.

LGBTQ advocates say that allowing people to change their gender on existing documents can reduce the risk of harassment and/or discrimination they experience when their physical appearance does not match the gender on their identification.

A similar policy in Oregon took effect on Monday, Jan. 1 and a policy in California is set to take effect on Sep. 1. Such policies reflect support for the non-binary community or for those who reject traditional gender binaries.

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