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Gender Recognition Act FAQ

What is the California Gender Recognition Act?

The Gender Recognition Act (California Senate Bill 179) was signed into law, and will go into effect January 1st, 2019.  The text of the bill is available here: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB179  In brief, the bill streamlines the process for Californians to apply to change their gender markers, and creates a nonbinary gender category on California birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, identity cards, and gender-change court orders (the letter “x”).   This enables many in our community, including transgender, intersex and nonbinary people, to have full recognition in the State of California.    The law was authored by Sens. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Equality California and the Transgender Law Center

FAQ’s & Answers Regarding the California Gender Recognition Act

What does this mean for UC San Diego?

The Gender Recognition Act has implications throughout the campus, and in particular in areas where we organize by gender in binary ways.   For example, many parts of employment processes, housing, sports facilities, payroll systems and recreational areas are designated by gender in a binary way (men and women).  Our campus will need to change in order to serve students, faculty and staff who are transgender, intersex and nonbinary. 

I think my department, unit or division needs to make some changes to ensure we are in compliance with the Gender Recognition Act. What should I do?

First, assess places where your area uses gender in a binary way (i.e. male and female, or men and women).  Then, determine what steps might need to be implemented in order to ensure inclusion of an “x” category into these systems.  This might entail updating campus data systems, reformatting reports, including “x” in surveys and assessments, and addressing physical spaces and facilities.  This may also require training for frontline staff to ensure appropriate implementation of inclusive policies and customer service practices.  Once you have made an initial assessment, reach out to the Working Group with your findings, and the Working Group will work with your area to support your necessary change efforts.

I heard there is a Working Group on this? Who is on it?

In the winter of 2018, Chancellor Khosla appointed Judy Bruner, the Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, and Shaun Travers, Campus Diversity Officer & Director of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, to lead a working group to advise divisions, units and departments preparing for this change.  The working group has a number of appointed members from throughout campus who are in key positions to assist the campus in making strategic, systemic changes to ensure inclusion of transgender, nonbinary and intersex people.  The members of the working group are fluid based on who need to access expertise to initiate change.  If you would like to be on the Working Group, or need more information, please contact one of the two co-chairs.  Full implementation is necessary by January 1, 2019, but the Working Group will continue until all of the inclusion issues are addressed.

I do not understand the difference between transgender, nonbinary and intersex. What is the difference?

Transgender is an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity or gender expression do not match the gender they were assigned at birth.  For example, some people who were assigned to be male at birth are female (trans women).  Some people who were assigned to be female at birth are male (trans men).  Some transgender people have medically transitioned, undergoing gender affirming surgeries and hormonal treatments, while other transgender people do not choose any form of medical transition. There is no uniform set of procedures that are sought by transgender people that pursue medical transition. Transgender people may identify as female, male, or nonbinary, may or may not have been born with intersex traits, may or may not use gender-neutral pronouns, and may or may not use more specific terms to describe their genders, such as agender, genderqueer, gender fluid, Two Spirit, bigender, pangender, gender nonconforming, or gender variant.

Nonbinary people have gender identities and/or gender expressions which fall outside of the dominant societal norm for their assigned sex, is beyond genders, or is some combination thereof.  Some people use the term Gender Queer to describe this identity.  Queer is a term that is offensive to some when used as a derogatory term. Others have reclaimed and self-defined the word as a form of empowerment.

An intersex person is someone whose sex a doctor has a difficult time categorizing as either male or female. It could also refer to a person whose combination of chromosomes, gonads, hormones, internal sex organs and/or genitals differs from one of the two expected patterns (i.e. male or female).  Another way of thinking about it is Intersex refers to a series of medical conditions in which a child's genetic sex (chromosomes) and phenotypic sex (genital appearance) do not match, or are somehow different from the "standard" definition of male or female.

Have any other states or area done this?

Yes.  Oregon created a nonbinary gender option in 2017 through an administrative action applying to drivers’ licenses and identification cards. Similarly, the DMV for Washington, D.C. began offering an “X” in addition to “M” and “F” in June of 2017.  Other countries like New Zealand have moved in a similar direction in 2016.

Does this mean we have to create new restrooms?

By UC policy, the conversion of all existing single-occupancy or single-stall restrooms in all UC-owned buildings from gender-specific to gender inclusive facilities has been complete.  For more information, see http://blink.ucsd.edu/facilities/services/general/personal/restrooms.html for more information.  However, access remains an issue, as some people must go from the top floor of a building, outside, across a street and into another building to access a single-occupancy or single-stall restroom.  Conversion of some multi-stall restrooms into multi-stall gender inclusive restrooms, or remodeling facilities to add additional single-occupancy or single-stall restrooms, addresses this issue.