The LGBTQ community made history today (10 June, 2016) when the Oregon circuit court ruled that Portland resident Jaime Shupe could legally change gender assignment to 'nonbinary.'
"Male and female are the traditional categories, but they fail to properly categorize people like me. So I challenged that," said Shupe in an interview with The Daily Dot.
Shupe filed for the "sex change," as the courts call it, on April 27 of this year. With the help of lawyer Lake James Perriguey, and official letters from primary care doctors, Shupe was able to legally change genders.
Shupe, an Army vet who began gender transition at the age of 49, prefers to not use any kind of gender pronoun. Not even "they," "their," them." Instead, Shupe prefers the honorific "Mx." Shupe initially planned to change from male to female and then from female to nonbinary.
According to the Transgender Law Center and other experts, this is the first case of nonbinary being recorded as a legal gender.
"As far as we know, this may be the first ruling of its kind in the U.S.," said Transgender Law Center's Legal Director Ilona Turner in an email to the Daily Dot. "This is an important step toward ensuring that nonbinary members of our community have access to identity documents that reflect who they are, just like everyone else."
While Shupe has won at the court level, the next step will be much trickier. The "first goal is to tackle the Oregon DMV" and go from there. Unfortunately, federal documents may prove a harder task, as they currently only allow male or female gender markers.
"This is incredibly humbling to be the first person to accomplish this," Shupe told the Daily Dot. "I hope the impact will be that it opened the legal doorway for all that choose to do so to follow me through. We don't deserve to be classified improperly against our will."
Over 64,000 people signed a petition in 2014 asking the White House to legally recognize nonbinary genders. Unfortunately, that petition did not gain any legal traction.
However, according to Nonbinary.org, several other countries already accept and openly recognize genders beyond male and female, including Nepal, Denmark, New Zealand, and Australia.
This is a step in the right direction, but we still do not know how Oregon's decision will effect the rest of the United States. Maybe it's time for lawmakers to take another look at that petition.