Coming Soon to a State Near You

Or, in the case of Arkansas, California, Colorado, D.C., Maine, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Utah, and Washington; Already Implemented in Your State and Thus You Really Ought to Know More About This, Friend

If you aren’t in any of those states, or maybe you’re like our dear friends in Arkansas who just never knew until a website owned by the gay dating app told them, you may not be familiar with the new legislation sweeping the nation that gives nonbinary people the option to have a legal gender marker that actually resembles who they are. 

And I say ‘resembles’ for a reason.

As a nonbinary person (and one who has been out in various capacities over the years) living in California, I am appreciative of SB-179 for giving more visibility to my identity and my community. For many years, I was told that I had to choose– that my only options were ‘M’ or ‘F’– and now the Golden State itself (and 10 others) is here to tell all of those naysayers that, despite their best efforts, I’m allowed to feel this way. 

I’ve talked a lot about this since the beginning of the year when this officially became an option, and while it all carries the same spirit of gratitude, I have some concerns. 

(1) I educate people for 20 hours a week and earn a paycheck that goes towards gas and school; no part of me wants to tell the bartender who I just handed my ID to why my gender is ‘X’. Not only is it literally my job, but it’s emotionally exhausting. I have to deal with the raised eyebrows, the ‘ok-you-special-snowflake’ tone, the general disapproval. And the innocent questions, of course, but even those get tiring after hearing them every time you introduce yourself.

(2) And why is it an ‘X’, anyway? Was an ‘N’ too similar to a ‘M’? Are the people checking my ID going to care that much about it that they’ll be upset I tricked them? What is the actual purpose to having a letter that is nothing like the other two in identifying myself? We cross things out with an ‘X’. Enough said.

(3) It’s just state-by-state for now. If I move to Arizona, what happens when I get my new ID? Am I back to a choice of one or the other? And my Social Security card will still have only two options, so when I apply for a job and that difference is brought to an employer’s attention, they may make the decision for me as to how they will think of me. Or they may just not hire me. Technically, they can’t do that, but who’s to really say I wasn’t just unqualified? What makes me think it’s the big, glaring ‘X’ and not my lack of fluency in Spanish?

Again, none of this is to say that I don’t appreciate the progress. I am greatly appreciative. But the acknowledgement has to be made this this bill isn’t going to be the perfect match for every nonbinary person in a state– let alone when it grows into a federally recognized decision. For some, I hope this is a good fit; for me, I think I’ll need some more time.

These conversations are wildly important, and I think it goes to say that they’re not the most simple. Even now, I feel as though I’m doing myself an injustice confining this to a blog post and not an entire dissertation that I’m forcing upon you. But we only have so much time together, so if I’m to leave you with anything, it’s with hope.

Things are getting better.

AJ