California is following the footsteps of Oregon and Washington D.C. in recognizing non-binary gender identification on official documents. Dr. Mary Andrews, a USC psychologist professor, said the Gender Recognition Act or SB-179, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday is a milestone for those who identify as male or female.
"It's better late than never, but we can always do better," Dr. Andrews said. She hopes this will start to normalize gender non-conforming people and deter the discrimination that follows it.
Dr. Andrews notes that USC has been changing some of their own documentation for a while now. Already some of the school's forms have an option for students to state their preferred pronouns.
"There are trends on college campuses where people identify themselves by gender," Dr.Andrews said. "We have a part of the student body that refer to themselves as 'they' or 'them.' So to have something other than male or female– a forced identity– it relieves some stress."
For universities in California, the legislation will affect identification markers on college applications for admissions and housing among other departments.
USC has offered gender-neutral housing prior to the Gender Recognition Act. The housing offered at USC apartment complexes Cardinal Gardens and Century offers the option for students to live with roommates regardless of gender identity. Julia Espinoza, the manager of Cardinal Gardens assured personal information is confidential.
Shawn Meerkamper, the staff attorney at Transgender Law Center, which is the bills' co-sponsor, said that the Gender Recognition Act will "allow the state to reflect Californians for who they really are."
Meerkamper added that the new legislation may deter harassment and other serious acts by allowing Californians to officially identify themselves as non-binary in state documents. The bill will remove medical certification requirements needed to change gender markers on official documentation.