On Thursday, Oregon became the first state to officially recognize a third gender on legal documents, referred to as gender "X," in a huge win for LGBTQ+ individuals.
On that same Thursday on the opposite side of the country, Texas Governor Greg Abbott Signed HB 3859 into law, which gives Texas welfare offices freedom to discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals based on "sincerely held religious beliefs."
According to the Texas Tribune, this means faith-based organizations "can also place a child in a religious school; deny referrals for certain contraceptives, drugs or devices; and refuse to contract with other organizations that don't share their religious beliefs."
While Texas certainly feels Draconian in its human rights "efforts," the good news shining from the west coast is promising.
As Elite Daily reported about a year ago, Oregon was also the first state to legally recognize an individual as a non-binary gender, so this news isn't a total surprise for the liberal state. This ruling seemed to set the wheels in motion for the appropriate ID changes.
The ruling, which didn't come in the form of a senate bill or a legislation passing, came from a simple need at the state level: from the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles. As part of the DMV's rule adjustment process, the division held public hearings to gauge the public's view on the change.
Tom McClellan, the division administrator said at a hearing Thursday before the Oregon Transportation Commission,
Of the 83 comments, both written and oral, only 12 were opposed to the ruling. Most of the 12 opposing comments were things like, 'This is ridiculous,' 'insanity,' and 'political correctness gone haywire.'
The new rule allows Oregonians to list "X" on state IDs, as opposed to marking "M" or "F" for male and female. This is a huge advancement in LGBTQ+ rights, and perhaps, most notably following this ruling is that no doctor's note is required for a switch in ID to gender X.
Why This Is So Important For LGBTQ+ Individuals
Giving LGBTQ+ individuals the power to decide what they self-identify as breaks the extremely harmful stereotype (also perpetuated by our current vice president that being gay or trans is somehow a "mental issue" that can be "changed" with therapy.
According to The Guardian, "The IDs can also help people avoid discrimination and mistreatment given that when people have IDs that don't match their gender presentation, they can be questioned and denied services."
Everyday things that cis individuals take for granted can become huge issues for non-binary individuals. Things like following gendered dress codes for work, choosing whether or not to wear a shirt in public settings, and of course, issues involving using the bathroom, can be avoided if individuals are allowed to show their third-gender ID option.
Unfortunately, laws protecting trans individuals are necessary, since we've seen time and time again how lack of established protection can hurt LGBTQ+ individuals. Merely introducing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation already begins to harm queer individuals before anything even gets passed, so kudos to Oregon for ensuring basic human rights for its citizens.
The rule change was unanimously approved by The Oregon Transition Commission, and goes into effect July 3.