People born in Washington State could soon be able to identify as non-binary on their birth certificates thanks to a recent proposal from the state health department. Currently, Washingtonians can request a new birth certificate with a different gender than the one on their original form, but can only change to either male or female identities. If the department's proposal is approved, there will be a third gender designation option, the News Tribune reports.
Christie Spice of the state health department told the Tribune that the office "periodically reviews rules" and members thought adding the non-binary designation would "improve the process."
"And at the same time we were getting growing requests and interest from the public about having options for sex designation,” Spice told the paper.
Adriaan Dippenaar, founder and director of the Seattle Nonbinary Collective, called the proposal an "important, symbolic step forward." Non-binary people face erasure on a day-to-day basis, which can lead to depression and other mental health impacts, they told The Stranger.
"Our members are excited about the possibility of being recognized," they said. "Many non-binary people can’t be out in the world... Legal recognition is a major step to decreasing that isolation."
Dippenaar said they hoped similar proposals will be adopted by state offices such as the Washington State Department of Licensing because drivers licenses and passports are used more frequently. Having one's non-binary identity represented on their driver's license or state ID—things they use to get into bars or apply for jobs and insurance—would provide people more visibility, they said.
Not having one's non-binary identity represented on their everyday identification "creates a weird, uncomfortable situation for everyone" in social and professional environments, Dippenaar said.
In June, an Oregon circuit court ruled that state residents could legally change their gender to non-binary.