• Supporters of gay marriage rally on the steps of the State Capitol November 22, 2008 in Sacramento, California. (Getty Images North America (Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images))Source: Getty Images North America (Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images)
If a new bill passes, Californians will be able to identify as non-binary on official documents.
Michaela Morgan

27 Jan 2017 - 4:03 PM  UPDATED 27 Jan 2017 - 4:03 PM

Democratic senators in California have announced a new bill that would enable transgender, intersex and non-binary people to access state issued documents reflecting their gender accurately.

The Gender Recognition Act of 2017 would allow people to update their birth certificates, driver’s licences and identity cards without undergoing clinical treatment or obtaining a court order.

Senate Bill 179 would also create a process where individuals under 18 could apply for a change of gender on their birth certificate.

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Sascha Buchert - staff attorney at the Transgender Law Centre in Oakland - says there are numerous problems the transgender community faces when their ID doesn’t reflect their gender. They can experience difficulty finding employment and are often reluctant to travel or use credit cards for fear of discrimination.

Co-author of the bill— Senator Scott Wiener— says the legislation is an “overdue step forward”.

“Our trans brothers and sisters are under attack in far too many parts of this country and this world. Now, more than ever, California must lead on trans inclusion and ensure that our entire community can live with dignity and respect.”

California is one of America’s most progressive states when it comes to LGBT+ rights. It was the first state to allow same-sex conjugal visits, the first to ban the use of ‘gay panic’ and ‘trans panic’ defences in murder trials and from March 1 this year, it will be the only US state to legally require all single occupancy bathrooms to be gender neutral.

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Meanwhile, Republican senators in Texas have introduced a bill that would prohibit transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice.

Wiener says it’s more important than ever for California to continue to support the LGBT+ community.

“We have transgender people around this country who are living in fear as more and more states strip them of their most basic rights. When they go backwards, we go forwards.”