An Oregon judge ruled Friday that a transgender individual can legally change their sex to “non-binary” rather than male or female in what is believed to be an unprecedented ruling.
The Oregonian reported that Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Amy Holmes Hehn legally changed Jamie Shupe’s, 52, sex from female to non-binary.
The co-executive director for Basic Rights Oregon Nancy Haque said the ruling was a “momentous day for genderqueer Oregonians.”
“It’s really exciting for the courts to actually recognize what we know to be true: gender is a spectrum,” Haque told the paper. “Some people don’t identify as male or female.”
Shupe is an Army veteran who retired in 2000 a sergeant first class. She began transitioning in 2013 while living in Pittsburg and knew that neither the male or female gender label fit.
Shupe chose the name “Jamie” because it was a gender-neutral name and would rather be called “Jamie” rather than a pronoun.
“I was assigned male at birth due to biology,” Shupe said. “I’m stuck with that for life. My gender identity is definitely feminine. My gender identity has never been male, but I feel like I have to own up to my male biology. Being non-binary allows me to do that. I’m a mixture of both. I consider myself as a third sex.”
In April, Shupe and lawyer Lake Perriguey filed a petition to legally change Shupe’s sex to non-binary.
According to the Oregonian, state law allows a court to change a person’s legal sex if a judge decides the person has undergone the surgical or hormonal treatment related to their gender transition.
Though the law doesn’t require a doctor’s note, Shupe brought letters from the Oregon Health & Science University, as well as the Veterans Hospital.
“The sexual reassignment has been completed,” Hehn wrote in the ruling. “No person has shown cause why the requested General Judgment should not be granted.”
Attorneys at the Sylvia River Law Project in New York told The Daily Dot that some cities have IDs that allow residents to decline to declare a gender. However, Haque said more work has to be done.
Basic Rights Oregon is working with officials across the state to offer people gender designations beyond male or female. Oregon residents still cannot list “non-binary” on a driver’s license or state ID.
“It’s a huge barrier to being able to live your life, to having a driver license, to employment, to having records about your life, transcripts, all of those things,” Haque said. “In all the ways our lives are gendered in ways they frankly don’t have to be, it can be a barrier for people whose identities aren’t easily put in a box.”
However, Shupe said her win felt “liberating.”
“I’m not under pressure anymore to conform to either thing,” Shupe said.
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