Friday, January 5, 2018

by Ebo Barton
Program Manager

The Washington State Department of Health passed a new rule today that allows for a new and easier process for a person to change the gender on their birth certificate and introduced a new gender marker.  The new gender marker, “X”, represents a gender that is not male or female.  The new “X” gender marker allows for thousands of Washington residents that do not identify with male or female to be recognized legally.

We were excited to partner with many other community led organizations to help make this change possible. Our coalition’s press release is available HERE.

Previously, Washington State Law required a court order or doctor’s letter if a person needed to change the gender listed on their birth certificate and the gender options were restricted to the gender binary, male or female.

Yesterday’s ruling means that in Washington State adults now have the right to self-attest to the gender marker change, without a court order or doctor’s letter and have the option to choose “M” , “F” or “X”. This is an important and exciting change for our communities!   

This new rule, while groundbreaking, creates barriers for some residents of Washington, specifically low income, youth and folks experiencing incarceration. This new process will require necessary documents to be notarized and the costs of and access  to notarization can be difficult for folks with low or no income and virtually impossible for folks experiencing incarceration.  Youth (minors) are still required to have a statement from an approved health care provider and a parent or legal caregiver will need to complete the application.  

According to the National Center of Transgender Equality, roughly 68% of Transgender adults do not have an ID with the name and gender they prefer.  Washington state is one of only three states and Washington D.C. to legally recognize people outside of the gender binary via a birth certificate.  

At this time, Washington State Department of Health is now the only state agency that allows a gender marker that is not strictly male or female.  This means that the process for updating gender markers on other state identification remains the same. We look forward to continuing work with our community partners and the State of Washington to ensure that all of our communities have access to identity documents that reflected their gender identity. 

As this policy is implemented and becomes effective in the coming weeks we will be sure to share know your rights guides on this policy with our communities. Further, if you’re interested in amending your Washington State issued birth certificate with with a new gender marker we encourage you to reach out to us at (206) 849 - 7859 or via email at Free civil legal advice is always available via our friends at QLaw at our first support group meeting of the month. Our next legal clinic is on Wednesday, February 7th at 7:00pm at Seattle Counseling Service. 

This is a victory and important step in a journey to recognize people of all genders. Thank you to all of our community members who shared their stories and helped us achieve this victory!

More information on the rule can be found here: