M, F, X: Washington may add third gender option to birth certificates

by: KIRO 7 News Staff Updated:

Washington-born residents may soon be able to change the gender on their birth certificates to one that is neither male nor female.

Washington Department of Health's Christie Spice told The Tacoma news Tribune giving non-binary individuals a third gender option is part of a nationwide discussion.

“It’s a conversation that is happening across state vital record offices,” Weeks said. “We will move forward based on the public input that we’ve received.”

It comes after Oregon became the first in the United States to offer X as an option on licenses for people who identify as non-binary individuals.

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People in Washington State can switch genders on their licenses but only between male and female.

According to The Tacoma News Tribune, if the state Department of Health’s proposed rule changes go into effect, there will be another box to check beyond M or F. Currently, people born in Washington can request a new birth certificate indicating a gender different than the one recorded at their birth on the original certificates.

Washington Department of Health is considering to adopting a new rule that would allow non-binary options when requesting a change to the sex designation listed on one’s birth certificate. The department filed paperwork on the process in August, and it’s in the early stages of the proposal.

The changes would not affect birth certificates issued to newborns. It’s only for individuals waiting to change their own certificates. and would apply only to people born in Washington.

Seth Kirby, director of Tacoma’s Oasis Youth Center, told The Tacoma News Tribune that having an non-binary option would be useful to some transgender people he works with in the organization.

“That’s a tool and a resource that people then can rely on as they think about the steps in their process,” Kirby said.


How advocacy groups explain gender: 

Gay & Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAAD) defines non-binary as people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the categories of man and woman.

Gender identity does not refer to sexual orientation or to people with indeterminate gender.

GLAAD explains that gender identity is a person's internal, deeply held sense of their gender. Most people have a gender identity of man or woman -- or boy or girl. But for some people, their gender identity does not fit neatly into one of those two choices.

For transgender people, their own internal gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.


The Family Policy Institute of Washington plans to oppose the proposed rule, said the group’s policy director, Chris Plante.

“A person’s gender, in nearly 100 percent of people, is binary, determined at conception by the individual’s biology,” Plante said. “To ensure integrity in our public records, official documents ought to reflect this biological reality.”

State officials are working with a range of organizations and state agencies in its proposal, including the Department of Licensing and the Human Rights Commission. The Tacoma News Tribune reports that the next phase would be creating a draft rule and taking public comment.