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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington State May Allow 'X' Gender Designation On Birth Certificates

Jon Connell
Flickr -

The state of Washington may soon follow Oregon and California and allow a third gender option on birth certificates. The proposal would let people change their gender from male or female to the non-binary designation of “X.”

Currently, people born in Washington can petition to change the gender on their birth certificate from male to female or female to male. But there isn’t an option to choose no gender.

That may soon change. Christie Spice with the Washington Department of Health said that’s because society is changing.

“And more people are identifying as a gender other than a male or female and there’s growing demand for non-binary sex designations on all identity documents, including birth certificates,” Spice said.

Under the proposed change, adults could request an “X” designation on their birth certificates. Children could also make the change with the consent of their parents and with a doctor’s note.

The Washington Department of Health will hold a public hearing Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Tumwater on this proposed rule change. Online comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. Tuesday as well.

The Department of Health has already received about 1,000 written comments both in support and against the change. The new rule could go into effect early next year.

A new Oregon law allowing an “X” designation on birth certificates takes effect on January 1, 2018. In June, Oregon became the first state in the nation to allow a third gender option for driver licenses and state identification cards.

A spokeswoman for Washington’s Department of Licensing said the agency is in the early stages of considering whether it can offer a gender neutral designation on state ID cards.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."