California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on Sunday signed new legislation that will allow state residents to choose a gender option other than male or female on official documents.
The legislation, a top priority of civil rights groups, also makes it easier for transgender people to change their gender identification on birth certificates or driver’s licenses.
“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,” said state Sen. Toni Atkins (D), who authored the bill.
The measure requires California’s registrar to issue new birth certificates to those born in the state who want to identify as a different gender, or as a third nonbinary option known as “intersex.”
It deletes a requirement in state law that an applicant undergo treatment and submit a sworn statement from their physician before changing their gender identity. Instead, applicants must only submit an affidavit affirming that the change would conform to their gender identity.
Some religious conservative groups opposed to transgender rights assailed the measure.
“This new law calls transsexuality good, when science, health, logic and love inform us it’s bad,” said Randy Thomasson, who heads the conservative group SaveCalifornia.com. “Science and God’s word agree you’re either male or female, not in-between.”
California is the first state to allow a nonbinary gender identification on birth certificates. Oregon and Washington, D.C., also allow residents to identify themselves as something other than male or female on their driver’s licenses. A similar measure is pending in New York.
The measure was one of dozens Brown signed on Sunday, the last day he had to act on legislation passed during this year’s legislative session.