Non-binary people gain legal recognition and birth certificate rights in historic Oregon ruling

Oregon appeals court grants legal recognition to non-binary people

Non-binary people in Oregon will now be able to change the gender marker on their birth certificates to reflect their identity, an appeals court has ruled.

The verdict came when Oregon’s Court of Appeals overturned a 2019 decision that barred people from changing their legal gender to non-binary.

The appeals court sided with Eugene resident Jones Hollister, 53, who has been petitioning to have their gender legally recognised since 2017.

“I am thrilled,” Hollister said. “To have a ruling and to have a really affirming statement by the court, I’m speechless. I can barely talk because I keep crying every time I think about it. I’m just so excited.”

The appeals court said that a judge has the “authority to grant the requested change of legal sex”, without the need for a doctors note, and not restricted to just male or female.

“Rather, the new sex designation must affirm the petitioner’s gender identity whether that is male, female, or non-binary,” the appeals court ruled.

Hollister said of their need for legal gender recognition: “I’ll have a legal piece of paper that says that the gender that I know I am and have always known that I am is legally recognised.

“Every time I’m given a piece of paper that makes me choose male or female, neither of them is accurate.”

“We submitted the appeal in the fall and… I don’t even know what to say. I’m still giddy,” Hollister added.

Hollister’s lawyer, Lorena Reynolds, worked with Basic Rights Oregon and the ACLU on the case.

Kieran Chase from Basic Rights Oregon said the ruling is critical.

“We’ve existed since humanity has existed. We know what is true about ourselves and having the court see and affirm that is really, really important,” Chase said.

Oregon already allowed X gender markers on ID documents.

It was already possible to use the X gender marker on driving licenses and passports in Oregon, but those changes are administrative, and not reflective of a person’s legal gender.

In 2017, the state began allowing people to choose a third gender on official documents like driving licenses and identification cards.

In addition to F and M, people were able to choose X.

The move was hailed as confirmation of a massive civil rights win for anyone who does not identify as simply male or female.

This includes non-binary, gender-fluid and genderqueer people.

Citizens of Oregon have since been able to request a change to the gender on their documents without the need for a doctor’s note.