What You Need To Know About SB 179

By Samantha Alsina on April 8, 2017

What is SB 179?

If this bill were to pass, it would make California the first state to have a third gender marker on state documents. SB 179, the Gender Recognition Act of 2017, will enable transgender, inter-sex, and non-binary individuals to receive state-issued identity documents that reflects their gender accurately.

Furthermore if this bill were to pass, birth certificates, state-issued ID’s, driver’s licenses, and gender change court orders would have a third gender marker. Even more importantly, the bill strips some of the difficulties that prevent many individuals from following through with name changes on state-issued documents.

Sponsored by Equity California and Transgender Law Center, the bill intends to answer some of the most ubiquitous hardships that the current laws poses towards those whose identification documents are not reflective of their actual gender.

California Legislature

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What are the current laws in California right now?

 Under current law, any individual who wants to change their gender identity on state issued documents must appear in court, regardless of whether any objections have been filed, and the process requires a physician’s sworn statement in regards to the extent of the individual’s transition. The latter requirement is misleading as it presupposes that transgender people have access to transition-related healthcare and wrongly supposes that someone’s gender identity is inherently linked with whatever choices an individual has made towards gender transitioning. As of right now, there is no state process in which those under the age of 18 can apply to change their name or gender on birth certificates. The state of California has no marker on state documents for those who identify outside the gender binary which can cause extensive distress and discrimination.

How would this bill help?

The bill removes the requirement of a physician’s sworn statement and replaces it with personal confirmation or self attestation. The bill ensures that no individual need to appear in court for name change court orders or gender change court orders unless an objection is filed to their petition. Additionally, the bill creates a process for minors to change their birth certificates and finalizes a third gender marker on state-issued documents.

Rainbow Flag

image via pixabay

Why is this bill important?

When someone’s gender appearance does not match their identification documents, it causes severe hardships in everyday life. Ranging from being denied services to facing discrimination, this bill would help ease transgender, inter-sex, and non-binary people navigate their everyday lives. Everyone deserves to live freely from harm, discrimination, and assault.

According to a 2015 survey with 25 thousand transgender individuals, about one third of respondents have reported facing negative experiences when having shown an ID that did not match their gender. More so, 68% reported that none of their IDs had their accurate gender identity and name. Some were denied services or asked to leave. Others were verbally or physically assaulted. The safety and validation that this bill may offer to many people across the state of California is invaluable and would be an incredible stepping stone forward. In light of the recent move by Trump to rescind the bathroom rules put in place by the Obama administration that protects transgender students, this state bill takes on extra significance and urgency. SB 179 could be the initial step necessary that would help push other states to employ similar bills.

To support this bill, please call your local legislator and let them know that you support SB 179.

By Samantha Alsina

Uloop Writer
I'm a junior at UC Santa Cruz pursuing a degree in Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing. I enjoy writing on intersecting issues including politics, entertainment, and art. When I am not writing articles and critical essays, I dally in poetry and short fiction. I hope to work in publishing one day.

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