Male, female, non-binary: California now recognizes third gender option

The state of California will no longer define gender as just male or female. Official documents will recognize non-binary as a third gender beginning in 2019.

Governor Jerry Brown signed SB179, also known as the Gender Recognition Act, on Sunday night. It allows for a third gender choice on driver's licenses and birth certificates, and eases requirements for transgender people to change their gender on identification documents. Previously, they had to receive treatment and provide a sworn written confirmation from their doctor. Now, a transgender person will only need to submit an affidavit stating the change aligns with their gender identity.

Non-binary is an umbrella term that includes any person who identifies with a gender that falls outside of the traditional male/female or man/woman. The law is also inclusionary for people who are born intersex — meaning they have ambiguous genitalia or sexual characteristics.

"I have dear friends in San Diego and around the state who have been waiting a long time for this," Sen. Toni Atkins, a Democrat from San Diego who authored the bill, told the Associated Press.

California joins Oregon and Washington, D.C. in recognizing gender neutral individuals on driver's licenses, but is the first state to do so on birth certificates. A similar measure has also been proposed in New York.