On September 1, 2018, a law that will legally recognize a third gender for people who do not identify as male or female will take effect in California. The Gender Recognition Act was created in an attempt to move towards a government that is more accepting of the LGBT members of the community, California will be the first state to allow for non-binary gender identification on birth certificates. However, the bill does bring up various important questions on the role which gender plays in society. The fact that California is looking for better ways to be accepting of the different people in the community is a great thing, however many things are going to be left unclear as a result of this law.
The existing law states that a person who was born in California and has undergone clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition may obtain a new birth certificate with the option of either male or female. The recently passed law going into effect on September 1 will amend the requirement that an applicant have undergone treatment and instead would authorize a person to submit an application to change gender on the birth certificate.
The options would not only include male and female, but a non-binary option, which incorporates people who neither identify as male nor female. One concern that should be addressed is the fact that people who may be biologically male but may identify as female, or vice versa, could use the bathroom of the gender they identify with rather than the bathroom of their biological gender. This bathroom issue, which has been at the forefront of the fight for transgender and LGBT rights, presents a problem because the law is very susceptible to abuse by people with ulterior motives, seeking to commit acts of sexual predation.
For example, in March of 2016 a man in Los Angeles was caught videotaping women in bathroom stalls in a Macy’s store. The man was able to enter the women’s restroom by dressing as a woman.Though incidents like this may be rare the possibility should be addressed and this law would make it easier for things like this to occur. The same can be said for the new non-binary option because there would be a gray area for which restrooms could be used by whom.
The government needs to address the various issues that will arise from the passing of this law. Another issue that will arise comes from gender specific institutions. For example, all-boys schools such as Loyola could theoretically have to accept female-born students who legally identify as male. Likewise, all-girls schools such as Mayfield and Marlborough could theoretically have to accept boys who identify as female.
The health of the people who decide to legally change their gender must be taken into consideration as well. When someone is biologically and legally identified as male or female, emergency procedures can be provided with predetermined protocols. However, when someone is biologically male or female but identifies as non-binary, medical procedure can be called into question by the people performing the procedures because it is not clear whether a biologically male person who is legally female would be operated on as a man or woman.
The medical procedures for men and women are different because of their biological differences. For this reason, laws must be changed to allow doctors to perform procedures specific to the biological gender of the patient during an emergency situation, without having to deal with any question as to whether or not the legal gender should be the basis for the procedure, or the biological gender.
Many would say that it is obvious that in an emergency the patient should be operated on using procedures that are in line with the biological identification of the patient. However, if the patient were to choose to pursue legal action because the patient was not satisfied with the procedures not being in line with their self identification, the legal implications on those involved with the procedure could be severe.
A careful dissection of not only the law itself, but more importantly, the current laws it would affect should have been performed before the law was passed. This action would have covered many of these loopholes presented.