About your “nonbinary” petition: You don’t feel that it’s exclusionary (only one category for /every/ nonbinary person?) & likely to cause discrimination (someone spots an ‘X’ on documents instead of M/F) & probably cause issues with existing gatekeepers (are you /sure/ you’re trans & not nonbinary? your info’ doesn’t match our criteria. fill out these forms to prove it.) & also allow more extensive govt. monitoring/categorisation (a list of every nonbinary person. fun.). It’s not a good idea.. Aren’t you concerned for the probable consequences of legal recognition of nonbinary gender? 1, it lumps EVERY nonbinary person into one category. 2, it exacerbates existing gatekeeping by adding another category that could be used against trans folks. 3, it enables govt monitoring of nonbinary folks & dismissal of anyone that isn’t ‘officially’ or ‘out’ as nonbinary. 4, it’s wanting a legal solution to a social issue & will WORSEN discrimination instead of negating it. Seems dangerous/foolish.
This anon sent two asks, so I thought it best to smush them together and post in a text-post.
First of all, some things to be aware of. It’s not my petition; I’m not USian, and I didn’t write the petition. Even though people outside the US can register (by leaving the zip code field empty) and then sign it, I didn’t feel it was appropriate for me to do so because I have never been to the US. I’ve been promoting it because it’s interesting and exciting, and I know that there’s a lot of USians who want legal recognition. On my other blog I promote a nonbinary title, Mx, and it’s pretty normal for me to see comments along the lines of, “wow, I wish we had that here in the US.” But there’s also a little selfish bit of me that knows that if the US were to legally recognise nonbinary people, we’d have something more to throw at our own government and legal recognition of my gender would come sooner.
Second, what with being in the UK and also being white I am pretty much totally inexperienced in the crap that Americans of colour have to put up with. I recognise that there’s a lot going on that I’m not aware of, and I get a bit of a flavour of what it might be when I struggle to find a home to rent as a disabled non-working person on benefits in a middle-class area.
As you’re probably gathering from this, I’m really quite uninvolved in the whole thing. You may be wondering why you messaged me. Erm. I can’t help you there; I don’t know who started the petition, and I found out about it on Noiys.com and then in a message from an anon on Tumblr.
So I’m going to talk about gender recognition in the UK. It’s totally unrelated but I’ll imagine that you’re asking me why I’m campaigning for nonbinary recognition for UK residents.
When you’re born, your parents fill in the form for your birth certificate. If you’re a little baby with an intersex body they’re going to think verrrry carefully before putting an X in that box; it’s my understanding that most intersex people have a binary gender identity, but correct me if I’m wrong there. Of course, there’s no way of your parents knowing in advance which binary gender to pick, but at the moment the only option is male or female, so even babies who’ve not had surgery get put in one of those boxes. This could continue.
When you’re binary trans you apply for a gender recognition certificate (GRC). But you’re not asking the panel to pick a gender that they think fits you; you apply for the one you want, and they decide whether or not you get it. The panel *couldn’t* issue you with an X instead of the M or F you’ve applied for.
Civil partnerships happened a few years before same-gender marriage here. They allowed same-gender couples to legally unite (is that the right word?), and then they went, “oh hang on, we’re a bunch of bigots and this doesn’t make sense!” and they granted the ability to marry. Now they’re deciding whether civil partnerships are even needed any more, since same-gender couples now have two partnership options where different-binary-gender couples have just the one. (I like the idea of both options being available to everyone, but I am also a minimalist, so I’m not sure where I stand there.) 1
What I’m getting at is, when new laws and social situations throw up obvious silliness, it can be dealt with quite quickly. I think if intersex birth certificates were possible, and nonbinary GRCs were possible, and most people who were intersex had to apply for a binary-gendered birth certificate pretty early on, and we have more useful identification like fingerprints and iris scans, it throws up the possibility of removing sex markers from birth certificates altogether, like some Canadian families are proposing.
it lumps EVERY nonbinary person into one category.
Obviously it would be preferable to have a “human” category and all the genders be lumped together, but I’m pretty sure the butch and femme women don’t mind being lumped together, or the trans and cis women, to use two very hasty and not-well-thought-out examples. Yes, there is a huge diversity among nonbinary identities, and there is a very similar range of expression in the binary categories too.
it’s wanting a legal solution to a social issue & will WORSEN discrimination instead of negating it. Seems dangerous/foolish.
Legal recognition of marginalised groups, at least over here, reduces discrimination against those groups.
This petition doesn’t make something a law. It raises discussion; I’ll be very surprised if the US government take any action at all. I have to trust that this is the beginning of a big debate/review, and if the proposed third gender category isn’t suitable something better will be brought in instead. Making laws is slow and clumsy, but as long as elected representatives are listening to their constituents and asking the right questions we’re doing the best we can. And if those questions include “why do we even have gender on birth certificates? Isn’t that a little presumptuous?” then things are not so bad.
1 Naturally, nonbinary people have no options for marriage because the current options require you to be a man or a woman. I don’t want to marry anyone, but there are nonbinary people who do want to marry someone without pretending to be binary. Likewise, there are nonbinary people who want to be parents, and the birth certificate requires words like “mother” and “father”.