Washington State just took a groundbreaking step toward equality for transgender and gender non-conforming folks! The state Department of Health issued a new rule that makes it easier for you to change the gender marker on your Washington birth certificate. Even better, starting on January 27th, Washingtonians will be able to change their gender marker to male, female, or X, which represents a gender that is not exclusively male or female (such as intersex, agender, genderfluid, genderqueer, transgender, Two Spirit, nonbinary, and others). This puts Washington at the forefront of a national—and international—movement to align government documents with the reality of people's lives and identities. The rule also recognizes non-binary minors, who will be allowed to change their certificates with the help of a parent or guardian. Unlike adults, who will no longer need a doctor's note to change their birth certificates, minors will need a statement from a health care provider. We fought against that aspect of the rule, because minors should not face barriers to having their identity recognized. We will continue our efforts to make sure minors' rights are supported. We are also working in collaboration with our allies to create a resource that explains the new rule and how you can use it to change your birth certificate. In the meantime, you can learn more about this rule on the DOH website. Of course, this is just one piece of what we envision to be a multi-year, multi-agency effort to recognize people of all genders. But today, we celebrate this critical step in eliminating social and legal barriers that undermine the health, safety, and equality of people because of their gender.
Special thanks to the Department of Health for standing with transgender and gender non-conforming Washingtonians, to our coalition partners in the Washington SAFE Alliance, and to all the people who traveled to Tumwater to testify about how important this rule would be to their lives.
Photo credit: Monica Melton