Cascadia is Leading the Fight for Non-Binary Rights

Cascadia Takes Final Steps Towards Being United in Non-Binary Rights

This week, Cascadia solidified its position as a leader in non-binary rights by holding public hearings in Washington around a proposed change to add an “X” gender and sex designation option on IDs and licenses. The change is expected to take place and be available to non-binary and intersex Washingtonians in the next few months.

This is a final step towards a Cascadia united in legally recognizing intersex and non-binary residents and de-colonizing concepts of gender in the region. The Washington Department of Health already allows an “X” option on birth certificates, and other portions of Cascadia, including Oregon, California, Idaho, British Columbia, the Northwestern Territories and the Yukon Territories, allow both IDs and birth certificates to have an “X” gender designation.

Outside of Cascadia, there are only a handful – approximately nine – U.S. states that legally recognize non-binary persons by making an “X” available as a sex or gender designation on IDs or birth certificates. Fortunately, many states are quickly changing their rules around “X” gender recognition, including watershed and fellow independence-minded region Hawaii, which passed its rule change just last week.

So far, the northern part of Cascadia, Alaska, has yet to implement recognition of X-gendered persons legally. This may be in part because to change one’s gender on an Alaskan-issued ID, a person must first change their gender with United States’ Social Security department. Because the U.S. S.S. doesn’t recognize third-gender or non-binary persons at this time, it is unlikely that Alaska will have the option of an “X” gender until it is something the federal U.S. government recognizes.

A Strong (Yet Short) Cascadian History in Recognizing Non-Binary Persons

Cascadia has been at the forefront of non-binary recognition for quite a white. In Northern Cascadia, a baby became the first in the world to be issued a health card with the gender-neutral “U” marking in 2017 (although the province, British Columbia, has not yet issue a birth certificate with a matching gender marker). That same year, the Northwest Territories began allowing “X” as a non-binary gender on birth certificates, and even further north in the Yukon territories, gender non-conforming individuals became able to access X-gendered birth certificates (at birth or through a request). The Canadian government began recognizing unspecified gender markers (“X”) on passports in that year, and finally added the option to apply for an X-gendered passport in 2019.

Southern Cascadia received a large amount of press coverage when Oregon became the first area to legally recognize non-binary gender designation in 2016. The following year, Oregon became one of the first areas where residents could apply for an “X” designation on IDs and licenses. In 2018, Oregon began allowing non-binary persons to correct their gender marking to “X” on birth certificates issued by the state.

The Southern Cascadian region of California received a similar amount of press when they became the second place in the U.S. to recognize a non-binary person as the gender they are, and to issue the first-ever birth certificate with “intersex” listed. Since 2017, California has allowed non-binary gender markers on birth certificates, IDs, and licenses.

Non-binary recognition is not limited to the west coast of Cascadia, however! In Eastern Cascadia, non-binary persons could have their birth certificates updated as of 2018 if they were born in Idaho, and as of 2019, Idahoians can request an “X” gender designation on their IDs and licenses.

Cascadia Leading the Way on this Emerging Issue

Reading the list above, it might seem like non-binary recognition is expected, and perhaps even the default. Unfortunately, this is not true. In most North American locations, and especially in the U.S., non-binary persons do not have their gender recognized legally, and in many places are not protected from discrimination. That means that non-binary persons outside of Cascadia may struggle to access housing, medical care, jobs, or community services as they are not part of a protected class and are not legally recognized by the areas in which they live.

We’re glad to see that the Washington area’s soon-to-be legal recognition on IDs and licenses is the last of many steps for a fully-recognized and fully-protected community of non-binary persons living in occupied Cascadia. However, there are still battles to come: despite the shared recognition of non-binary persons on either side of the federal border in both Washington state and Canada, non-binary residents who have had an Enhanced Driver’s License issued will not be able to get an “X” on this type of ID. This is because the oppressive U.S. government is charged with issuing these “passport cards,” and they still refuse to recognize their non-binary citizens. In fact, the U.S. State Department continues to appeal a case they have already lost twice in which judges have ruled that they must issue non-binary persons passports with a gender designation of “X.” The U.S. Census questions similarly don’t recognize non-binary persons and ask respondents to identify as either “male” or “female” under threat of fine for misinformation even though areas of occupied Cascadia have legally recognized more than two genders.

As a people-focused, civil-rights-minded regional movement, it’s no surprise that Cascadia is a leader in this emerging issue – and non-binary persons in Cascadia can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they are recognized within this bioregion, even if not by the occupiers.

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