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Maine offers non-binary option on birth certificates

Exploring gender identification
Exploring gender identification 07:16

Birth certificates in Maine now offer a non-binary option.

With the option, parents can opt to have an "X" gender designation for their child, as long as both parents show consent by signing the parent's worksheet, according to an FAQ sheet released by Governor Janet Mills and the state's Department of Health and Human Services. An X will display on the birth certificate instead of male or female, according to the FAQ sheet. 

Adults who wish to change the designation on their birth certificate can also do so. They need is an individual notarized application, a photo ID and $15 for a certified birth certificate. 

According to EqualityMaine, an organization that works to achieve full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the state, the finalized rule was issued on Monday. It went into effect on Tuesday, which was International Non-Binary People's Day, an occasion to shine a light on people who do not identify exclusively as a man or a woman.  

Adults and emancipated minors can also change their first and middle names to align the record with their gender identity. They will receive a new record that will include the same information as the original – except it will show their new name and sex designation, according to the FAQ sheet. Parents can also make the changes for their children.

In a press release on Monday, EqualityMaine, praised the new birth certificate inclusion.

"All people – regardless of gender identity – need accurate and consistent identity documents and records to open bank accounts, start new jobs, enroll in schools, obtain health care, travel, and more," it said in a press release this week. "Many people never have to worry about whether or not these documents accurately convey who they are. But for others, living with identity documents that do not match up with who they are creates enormous difficulties and discrimination."

Gia Drew, program director for EqualityMaine called the changes "really exciting," and said they "will make a significant difference in the lives of transgender folks like myself, and people whose gender identity is neither exclusively male nor exclusively female."

"We've heard from so many people, as well as from parents of trans and gender expansive youth, who've become so frustrated with the outdated process. I hope the news of these necessary and affirming changes bring some light to people during these unsettling times," Drew said.

Maine already allowed residents to obtain an X gender designation on their licenses and state IDs. Several states also allow X gender designations on IDs and birth certificates. 

In June 2017, Oregon became the first state to allow "not specified" as a gender option on driver's licenses. California driver's licenses and birth certificates also include a third gender choice.

Washington, D.C., recently made the move to recognize gender neutral individuals on driver's licenses, as well, and New York and New Jersey also allow third gender options on birth certificates.

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