Gender or Conforming Name Change Process Streamlined for State IDs

a.t. furuya who grew up in San Diego, is only the fifth person in the country, according to the Transgender Law Center, to obtain court documents that grant “nonbinary” as their legally designated gender.  

“I was assigned female at birth, but I identify as agender or nonbinary. So, agender for me meaning, I don’t have a gender. I don’t associate and I don’t have an internal feeling of any type of gender,” furuya told NBC 7 in an October 2017 interview.

Now, under a new law that went into effect on Sept. 1, it will soon be easier for people like furuya to obtain a gender or conforming name change on state-issued identity documents.

Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), author of the new laws, encouraged residents Tuesday to visit the California Courts’ online help center for assistance with the new streamlined procedures.

It makes California the second state in the country to offer a standard path to obtaining a nonbinary gender marker on state documents, according to the Transgender Law Center.

“For the individuals who want this, this is really about them being able to be recognized for who they are by their friends, their neighbors, and their government even,” Atkins said.

For some, it’s not just about recognition.

Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center, said it can also be about safety.

“Having appropriate ID is an issue of public safety for many trans, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people, who may be subject to discrimination, harassment and even violence when they’re forced to carry inaccurate or mismatched documents,” said Hayashi.

Some of the new procedures took effect on Sept. 1 under Senate Bill 179, the Gender Recognition Act, and Senate Bill 310, the Name and Gender Act --- two pieces of legislation Atkins authored last year.

The Gender Recognition Act, signed into law in October 2017, simplifies the process for transgender, nonbinary and intersex Californians to obtain a gender or conforming name change on state-issued identity documents.

“When Governor Brown told me he had signed SB 179, it was one of the proudest moments of my career,” Atkins said. “Mindful of all the people I know who are gender-nonconforming, and the families I know with transgender children, I wanted to make sure that California continued to be a leader in gender-identity equality. I am thrilled to see SB 179 and SB 310 implemented and grateful to our courts for their work to ensure a streamlined application process.”

Nonbinary means the person does not designate male or female as a gender. The option will come in the form of an “X” on state-issued ID’s, starting in January 2019.

The new law does not go into effect all at once, and it doesn’t affect all documents issued by the government, like passports. The Transgender Law Center put together a Fact Sheet of key dates and facts about the new legislation. 

Another of Atkins’ key pieces of legislation, the Name and Gender Act provides incarcerated individuals the ability to change their gender or name in a California court under existing court processes.

Under the simplified processes created by the new laws, individuals may change their gender markers to nonbinary, in addition to male or female, on state-issued identity documents by petitioning a gender and/or conforming name change through a judicial process or by revising their birth records.

“The new law also removes costly and outdated barriers to updated IDs and birth certificates that fell disproportionately on incarcerated trans, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people and those without access to affirming healthcare,” said Hayashi.

Starting on Jan. 1, 2019, individuals may change their gender markers on their state driver’s licenses and identification cards. 

Contact Us