The to file petitions for gender and name changes.

The Gender Recognition Act, or SB 179 (Senate Bill 179 2017), legally recognizes and supplies the nonbinary gender option; allows individuals (including minors) to switch their gender designation and name (to conform to their gender identity) on their birth certificate, identification card, and state driver’s license without providing a physician’s verification of clinical treatment for gender transition; and provides a new procedural system for individuals to file petitions for gender and name changes. SB 179 broaches and expands four legal areas; gender designation, legal name changes, minors petitioning for gender changes, and the recognition of the nonbinary gender. Assembly Bill 433 (Assembly Bill 433 2011) forwarded the legal transition of genders for transgender people. If transgender people wanted to update their birth certificate, driver’s license, and ID to reflect their correct gender, they had to obtain a court order with a physician’s statement indicating clinical treatment as conclusive proof of their gender change. Assembly Bill 1121 (Assembly Bill 1121 2013) eased this process by having transgender people instead submit a form and the physician’s statement to their state’s Department of Public Health. With SB 179, transgender Californian’s no longer have to submit physician verification of clinical treatment or appear in court. Recognizing name changes are a complicated mix of state and federal rules. The common law allows an individual to file a petition within the court for a name change order. Laws regarding name changes involving gender transitions are usually different state-by-state.  While some states allow transgender people to change their name as easily as a regular name change, other states require legal notices to be posted in newspapers, medical documentation, physician statements, and even psychiatric documentation. AB 1121 allowed transgender Californians’ to apply for name changes that conform to their gender without attending in-person hearings and exempted them from publishing the name change in newspapers. SB 179 (commencing Sept. 1, 2018) will create a separate system for transgender individuals, both hastening and easing the process.  SB 179 allows minors, with the signature and support of a parent or guardian, to petition the court for a gender change. Before SB 179, parents had to petition on the behalf of their child. Finally, SB 179 provides state recognition of nonbinary as a third gender and is the first state providing nonbinary gender markers on birth certificates. Before SB 179, there were several independent court petitions regarding a gender change to nonbinary (Santa Cruz), but California will officially provide nonbinary as a recognized, third gender. Most of these transgender gender and name changes differ on a state-by-state basis. For example, Idaho, Ohio, and Tennessee will not allow any changes to birth certificates at all (Tennessee explicitly citing sex change). California has been more open to laws giving freedom to transgender people, and it will be the first state to take into consideration of the nonbinary gender. Besides state-by-state laws, most cases are petitioned in court on an individual basis. SB 179 addresses many of the barriers transgender people must face legally. Updating birth certificates, drivers license, and identification can be separate processes in different courts. Document changes are difficult and time consuming regarding gender and transition-related name changes, and the additional requirement for a physician’s statement has added many unnecessary difficulties. At the crux of the issue, medical gender transition has no relation to gender identity; gender identity is fundamentally personal. Some people identify as a different sex but do not feel the need to undergo hormonal therapy or other surgical procedures to feel otherwise. The additional inclusion of nonbinary as a third gender provides inclusion to those that identify outside the binary genders and by allowing minors to petition for a gender change, it allows youths to live freely and authentically.. There is large support for SB 179 within the LGBTQ community. By allowing easier access to legal gender changes and the additional identification of the nonbinary gender, many individuals can lead healthier and happier lives. Transgender individuals can legally change their gender at greater ease, allowing access to medical treatments that their insurance can cover with a legal gender change. Name changes can allow greater societal adjustment. Youths can have greater stability in their lives and be mentally healthier (as UCLA studies show trans and gender-nonconforming generally have higher suicide and homicide rates). There are three main arguments against SB 179. The first is the controversial elimination of an age requirement to petition for a gender change. The only thing stopping parents from pushing incredibly young children to change genders and names is the court, as SB 179 also eliminates consultation from physicians or other child development specialists. The second argument is that the nonbinary gender would likely fall under the federal Title IX statute, which requires California’s public colleges, universities, and schools to provide non-binary sports teams and facilities, creating federally mandated expenses to the state. The third is the amount of legal issues created within the prison system, TSA, and fraudulent actions. For example, prison officers are constitutionally obligated to strip search only those of the same gender. TSA would have many issues screening people that don’t have matching gender ID’s and physical gender traits. Finally, because there alot of legal leeway regarding gender changes and name changes with SB 179, there will be people abusing this system for unfair to illegal purposes, such as applying under the FAFSA as a different gender to receive more money. Interest groups that support SB 179 tend to be from the LGBTQ community and those supporting mental and family health (ie. Equality California, California Communities United Institute, ). This makes perfect sense as the bill pushes LGBTQ rights and tries to alleviate the struggles of the youths in these communities. Interest groups thats are against SB 179 tend to fall under more conservative and religious communities, On October 15, 2017, SB 179 was approved by the governor and chaptered by the Secretary of State. While it received some revisions, it did not get much heavy pushback. I believe this is because SB 179 targets a niche population. The next step for transgender and nonbinary rights would be protection of privacy and against discrimination.

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