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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 17, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 25
'Nonbinary' now a legal gender in Oregon
Section One
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'Nonbinary' now a legal gender in Oregon

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

An Oregon circuit court ruled on June 10 that a Portland resident could list their gender as 'nonbinary' on official documents.

The ruling came in the case of Jamie Shupe, who was assigned male gender at birth but began to transition in 2013. Shupe at first petitioned the court to change legal gender to female, but then requested to be designated nonbinary.

'As far as we know, this may be the first ruling of its kind in the U.S.,' said Transgender Law Center's legal director Ilona Turner in an email to the Daily Dot website.

'This is an important step toward ensuring that nonbinary members of our community have access to identity documents that reflect who they are, just like everyone else.'

Shupe's petition for 'sex change,' as the court documents calls the change in legal gender designation, was filed on April 27. Shupe, who prefers not to use gender pronouns at all, was represented by Portland attorney Lake James Perriguey.

'Male and female are the traditional categories, but they fail to properly categorize people like me. So I challenged that,' said Shupe.

Shupe described being 'literally tearful' when the circuit court issued the judgment.

'This is incredibly humbling to be the first person to accomplish this,' Shupe told the Daily Dot. 'I hope the impact will be that it opened the legal doorway for all that choose to do so to follow me through. We don't deserve to be classified improperly against our will.'

Shupe told the Daily Dot that it remains unclear how the court's decision will apply to the range of identity documents people rely on. Shupe said the 'first goal is to tackle the Oregon DMV.'

But even if the state agrees to issue a 'nonbinary' driver's license, federal identity documents currently use only male or female gender markers.

'To my knowledge, many cities and a few states have options where an ID card does not need to declare a gender (such as the NYC ID card or the NYS Benefits card),' Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) attorney Mik Kinkead wrote in an email, 'but I have never heard of a system where someone's nonbinary gender is actually affirmed on the card itself.'

'Many trans, gender-nonconforming, and intersex (TGNCI) people identify as nonbinary or along a genderfluid spectrum, but due to the nature of ID documents and discrimination, many of us have no way to see our gender identity reflected, so this is amazing news,' SRLP Membership Director Sasha Alexander added.

In 2014, over 64,000 people signed a petition asking the White House to recognize nonbinary genders, but without success as yet.

However, according to the website Nonbinary.org, other countries already recognize genders other than male and female - including Australia, Denmark, Nepal, and New Zealand.

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