Today, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his city’s intention to introduce a policy recognizing a third gender (“X”) on the birth certificates of non-binary and intersex people. While the New York City third gender policy is set to go before the City Council later this week, it would make NYC the fifth spot in the United States to allow such a gender marker on government-issued identification documents.
According to Time magazine, the proposed policy for a New York City third gender will be considered on June 5 at a meeting of the New York city Board of Health, “with a hearing in July and a vote in September if the board agrees.”
In a statement, Mayor de Blasio said, “Pride Month is a time to celebrate how far we’ve come in the fight for equality, and re-affirm our commitment to protecting all New Yorkers from discrimination. This proposal will allow transgender and gender-nonconforming New Yorkers to live with the dignity and respect they deserve, and make our City fairer.”
The city reportedly issued its first-ever third-gender birth certificate for an intersex person in 2017.
In the United States, three states — California, Washington and Oregon — began issuing non-binary birth certificates this year. In January 2003, Australia began to let people designate “X” as their gender, and throughout the ’00s India, Nepal and Pakistan followed suit. In Germany it was ruled the government must allow for a third gender option by 2019.
Washington, D.C. recognizes a third gender on people’s drivers licenses.
What’s the difference between between being intersex and non-binary?
The term “non-binary” refers to a person who identifies as neither male nor female, whereas the term “intersex” refers to individuals born with physical sexual characteristics that are between the usual male or female traits.
Intersex poet and author A.J. Odasso says, “The most common misconception of intersex people, at least that I’ve encountered, remains the one that we all have ‘both’ sets of genitalia. That’s a flawed assumption. Intersex variations can be chromosomal, gonadal, hormonal, genital or any combination of those and other factors.”
While we don’t have any reliable estimates of the number of intersex people in the world, a 2000 study published in the American Journal of Human Biology estimates that intersex people make up an estimated 1.7% of the population. That’s 125,884,605 people (roughly the population of Japan).
Intersex folks face stigma, discrimination and even abuse and death around the world, so the annual Intersex Day of Awareness on Oct. 26 serves as an effort to educate people about the realities of intersex people and their lives.