Third gender option takes effect in NYC, Calif.

Tags: genderLGBT

NEW YORK (BP) -- People who don't believe they're either male or female can now choose a third gender in New York City and California, joining six other states and Washington, D.C., that allow the option.

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Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington State and Washington, D.C. allow a non-binary gender option, often designated by X on legal documents including driver's licenses and birth certificates.

Gender X becomes legal in New Jersey in February, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality's tracking site. Vermont is in the process of making the change, and state officials pledged in January 2018 to have the option in place by July of this year.

In Arkansas, a little-known option has allowed non-binary designations on documents since 2010, HuffPost reported in October 2018. The designation is becoming more widespread following its adoption by Oregon and Washington, D.C., in the summer of 2017, with legislation reintroduced in New York State this month. Germany became the first European nation to allow gender X in December 2018, the German government announced.

Mayor Bill de Blasio celebrated the change in New York City.

"To all trans and non-binary New Yorkers: We see you, hear you and respect you," he tweeted days in advance of the change. "Starting in 2019, all New Yorkers will be able to change their gender on their birth certificate to M, F or X -- without a doctor's note."

Argentina, Bangladesh, Canada, Denmark, India, Malta, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan and Uruguay are among nations allowing a third gender, according to various news reports and government websites.

Southern Baptists affirm binary gender in Article III of the Baptist Faith and Message, referencing Genesis 1:27, while the 2014 SBC resolution On Transgender Identity affirms "God's good design that gender identity is determined by biological sex and not by one's self-perception -- a perception which is often influenced by fallen human nature in ways contrary to God's design."

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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