New White House Petition Asks Government to Recognize Nonbinary Genders. Whether It Succeeds Or Not, It's Clear The Administration Will Have To Respond Eventually
Currently in the United States every citizen must be identified as either male or female on official documents such as a drivers license or passport. There are only two options, and everyone has to have one. Though different states have different policies for allowing trans* people to change their designation, many requiring the applicant to have undergone sex reassignment surgery, there are still no suitable options for nonbinary people, who do not identify with a gender.
A new petition on WhiteHouse.gov is hoping to change that. The petition asks the White House to "legally recognize genders outside of the male-female binary (such as agender, pangender, genderfluid, and others) and provide an option for these genders on all legal documents and records." Which would be awesome.
This petition follows immediately on the heels of a similar petition which began last month but only received about 60,000 signatures, falling short of the 100,000 needed to mandate a White House response. Of course, there's no guarantee that the White House would have responded favorably – if there was, the U.S. would be building a Death Star right about now – but just provoking an official response would be a victory in and of itself.
Not discouraged, a new petition also asking for the White House to recognize non-binary genders appeared on the site almost immediately. The new petition, which has only been up for a few days, already has almost 40,000 signatures as of press time. If it continues at this pace, it will clear 100,000 easily, but even more important is the fact that the simple presence of this petition makes it clear that this issue is not going away, and those people who fall outside the rigid masculine/feminine binary that our society seems so enamored with are not going anywhere either.
When you think about how variable human beings can be and about the many, many ways in which people identify and perceive themselves, it seems absolutely ridiculous that we try to force all people everywhere to fit into exactly one of only two possible gender identities. And then to make things even worse we place all sorts of demands on how people within those identities should behave, most of which is preposterous. Legally recognizing that people don't have to fit into that system would be a good step towards allowing people to exist in society without conforming to rigid gender roles.
Also, when Facebook is more progressive and inclusive than the government, there might be something wrong. Just saying.
It's entirely possible that this petition will fail just like its predecessor, but even if does, there will hopefully be another after it, and another after that if need be, because until we recognize that people can express their gender – or lack thereof – freely, we all lose out. And to make sure this issue gets addressed sooner rather than later, go sign the petition.