Add Another Box: Oregon Judge Allows Citizen to Classify Gender Identity as “Non-Binary”

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

Judge Amy Holmes Hehn of Portland, Oregon has added yet another option in gender classification by granting Jamie Shupe’s request to switch sexes from female to non-binary. Shupe was assigned the gender of male when born, but began transitioning to female in 2013. However, Shupe never fully identified as either male or female and originally chose to undergo a medical transition to female simply because there were only two choices.

Oregon law allows a court to change a person’s sex on a birth certificate if a judge determines the person has undergone surgical, hormonal or other treatment related to a gender transition. The law does not require medical evidence of said change. In April, Shupe petitioned the court to legally change Shupe’s sex from female to “non-binary,” which Shupe felt better reflected the status. Although not required to do so, Shupe provided letters from doctors. In a June 10, 2016 order, the Court found that Shupe’s sexual reassignment had been completed, as required by the law, and found that no person had shown cause as to why the change should not be granted as requested.

States have their own procedures regarding changes of vital records—whether it be for a name change or a gender identity change. As noted above, Oregon’s law does not require medical evidence and is fairly easy. Again, this is one local judge’s decision to grant this unique status, but it does illustrate a continuing trend to focus on gender identity issues that are driven more by the individual’s choice than by objective standards.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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