On Thursday, January 4, 2018 the Washington State Department of Health issued a statement that delighted the Transgender community. The DOH was taking the bold step to add a new rule that would add a 3rd gender marker to all Washington State birth certificates. The non-binary “X” would join the traditional “F” for female and “M” for male starting January 27th. Per the Department’s website:
“On December 27, 2017, the Department of Health filed the Rule-making Order to adopt proposed WAC 246-490-075, Changing sex designation on a birth certificate, under Washington State Register 18-02-048. The adopted rule:
- Sets application requirements to request a sex designation change on a birth certificate
- Sets designation options as male, female, and X
- 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-female, neutrois, nonbinary, pangender, third sex, transgender, transsexual, Two Spirit, and unspecified.
The adopted rule applies only to amendments made to birth certificates after the original record is completed at the time of birth.
The adopted rule differs from the proposed rule by clearly stating that an adult may apply for a sex designation change on their birth certificate through a guardian appointed pursuant to chapter 11.92 RCW. This change reflects what is already provided for under state statute and does not change the effect of the rule as proposed.
The adopted rule will become effective on January 27, 2018.”
Oregon’s non-binary gender marker on birth certificates went into effect on January 1, 2018. Washington will become the second state to provide that option and California, which approved a similar measure last October, will have their new non-binary birth certificate option go into effect in September 2018.
Seen as a great victory for transgender rights, TRANSform WA Project Director and WA SAFE Alliance Coordinator Jeremiah Allen sat down with Katelen Kellogg, Pride Foundation’s Communications and Outreach Manager to discuss what these changes mean for Washington State and the transgender community.
(Katelen Kellogg): What does this new change mean for transgender and non-binary people?
(Jeremiah Allen): This change expands the options for gender markers and recognizes Washingtonians who identify as non-binary in an impactful and meaningful way.
This change does not just effect people who identify as non-binary. This also clarifies the rulemaking process for anyone who wants to change the gender marker on their birth certificates—whether to the non-binary “X”, or to male or female.
This action also changed the requirements for changing one’s gender marker:
- Adults will no longer need a physician’s note, which will significantly reduce the barriers that people face in this process, especially people in rural and remote places, or who are low-income. Instead, adults will just need to fill out an application and have their signature notarized.
- Minors will now only need notes from a licensed health care professional and a parent or guardian. The list of licensed health care professionals who can attest to the gender change has been expanded.
Fortunately, the amended birth certificate will be a clean birth certificate, meaning you will not be able to tell that it was changed. In other states, it is common practice to place an x through the original entry, but this can increase the likelihood of being outted or targeted for this change.