Male, female or X? Washington may add new birth certificate choice

SEATTLE, Wash. -- A new designation could soon show up on Washington State birth certificates: X.

If a rule change is approved, it’ll be added to the standard M (male) and F (female).The X refers to non-binary, a term for someone who doesn’t identify as entirely male or entirely female. There is a growing number of people who are identifying this way, and the state is looking to follow suit. They’re asking you to weigh in on whether to make the gender choice official.

In a statement of inquiry, the state Department of Health is considering establishing an option for a “non-binary” sex designation. The reason is “(b)ecause some people identify as neither male nor female.”

As of now, only Ontario, Canada and Oregon have added the designation. Oregon’s governor signed a law in May allowing for a third option on birth certificates. And in July, the Oregon Department of Transportation has also started giving people the X option.

In the nine weeks since the new rule began, ODOT’s David House says 446 people changed their designation. Since state licenses are renewed every seven years, he expects to see more people use the new choice in the years to come. For ODOT, it’s not just for non-binary. In fact, Oregon calls it “non-specified” and allows anyone to choose X. They found some people simply didn’t want their sex listed on their driver’s license.

So why the X? House says it comes from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, a non-governmental organization that both the U.S. and Canada uses to help set standards.

If Washington makes the change, don’t expect to see it immediately. Government entities will need time to make needed changes. From internal programming to reworking forms, to police and courts, all will need to have procedures in place to easily make any change.

If you’d like to weigh in, the Department of Health says to email your opinions to their office.