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‘Non-binary’ could be option on Washington state birth certificates

The non-binary option on Oregon's driver license application.
Oregon Department of Transportation

Washington state residents could eventually get a third option to designate gender on their birth certificates.

That new option would be "non-binary."

The state Department of Health has begun the public process to turn its decade-old birth certificate gender change policy into an official rule. 

“We want to provide people with options with having a birth certificate that aligns with the gender they identify with when that doesn't match the sex that they were born with,” said Laura Johnson, director of the Policy and Technology, Disease Control and Health Statistics Division.

She said they don't know the demand for a non-binary option on birth certificates, but requests for male-to-female sex designation changes and vice versa have risen over the past few years. 

According to Johnson, there were more than 200 requests in 2016, compared with 100 in 2015. Two-thirds of the way through 2017, there have been more than 100 requests to change sex designation on birth certificates.  

The Family Policy Institute of Washington, however, has called on the Department of Health to reject the proposed part of the rule that would allow for a third gender choice.

The group says it would "harm the integrity of state public records," since it would allow birth certificates to reflect what they refer to as "individual expression" instead of "biological reality." 

Washington’s health department will hold a public hearing on the matter sometime in early December. 

Parents who don’t want to assign a gender to their newborns would not be able to take advantage of this new rule, Johnson said.

“It would need to be a separate process because that has to do with how the sex is assigned at birth,” she said. “It’s two different tracks.”