A judge in the state of Oregon ruled on Friday, June 10, 2016, that a transgender person can change their gender status from either male or female to non-binary. This is the first time in the United States of America that a judge has granted a person this right and is considered to be a watershed moment for the transgender and genderqueer communities.
The Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Amy Holmes Hehn gave fifty-two year old Jamie Shupe the right and access to legally change her gender status from female to non-binary. Shupe represents a substantial number of people in the transgender community who do not define themselves as either male or female.
Many people in America, thanks to Caitlyn Jenner, view transitioning as something where a person completely swaps their gender. However, there are people who are more comfortable in-between these labels.
For instance, Shupe has publicly stated that her God-given genitalia is of the male gender, but her soul and way of viewing the world is definitely more feminine. However, she has no desire to go through with gender reassignment surgery and views herself as a type of “third sex” rather than male or female.
According to Oregon law, one is allowed to change their gender marking if a judge decides that a person has taken surgical, hormonal, or other treatment related steps concerning their gender transition. No doctor’s notes or any type of documentation is necessary in order to support this claim. While Shupe brought notes from her personal doctor along with notes from medical/gender-identity professionals, the judge ruled them unnecessary and allowed her to change her gender marking.
And while many in the genderqueer community are applauding this ruling as a game changer, others recognize just how much more there is to be done. Even in a more accepting state like Oregon, it is still difficult for people in the transgender community to get proper medical care and even maintain jobs because they do not adhere to social gender norms.
It is also not possible for people in the state of Oregon to gain access to driver’s licenses or state-identification cards that allow them to select non-binary as a gender. The co-executive director for Basic Rights Oregon, Nancy Haque, is quoted as saying that these difficulties are a “huge barrier to being able to live your life.”
Criminal defense attorney Angie DiPietro further commented, “It will be interesting to see how this may impact the use of pronouns in future legislation in this state.”
However, with all of the transphobia that is taking place across state governments nationwide, this ruling is still a major step forward and hopefully provides the precedent for future rulings in other states. While righteous anger at the problems facing transgendered people is absolutely appropriate, it is equally as important to shine the light on people and states who are practicing the equality that our Constitution is founded upon.