The Gender Recognition Act (California Senate Bill 179) went into effect January 1, 2019. The bill makes the process easier for Californians to apply to change their gender markers on California birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, gender-change court orders and identity cards. Most significant, the bill creates a non-binary gender category (the letter “x”). These easier processes will allow many people in our community, including transgender, intersex and nonbinary people, to have full recognition in the State of California.
Read the frequently asked questions below to learn more about the implications for our work at MiraCosta.
What is the California Gender Recognition Act?
The Gender Recognition Act (California Senate Bill 179) went into effect January 1, 2019. This bill may sound familiar to you and that is because aspects of this bill have been put into effect since January 2018. Now the bill will be completely put into law. The text of the bill is available online. The bill makes the process easier for Californians to apply to change their gender markers on California birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, gender-change court orders and identity cards. Most significant, the bill creates a non-binary gender category (the letter “x”). These easier processes will allow many people 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.
How does the GRA impact MiraCosta College?
Many aspects of our college system relies on a binary gender classification (woman/man). In order to make sure that all of our students and employees are being served at the highest level of excellence changes will be made to those systems binary gender systems so that people with non-binary gender makers are accounted for.
I believe my department, unit, or division will need to make adjustments in order
to be in compliance with the Gender Recognition Act. What steps should we take?
In the coming weeks a survey will be released that will help us get a better idea of the scope of work that will need to be done in your department. If you would like to make sure you receive the link to that survey please email India Pierce firstname.lastname@example.org.
What steps are MiraCosta taking that we should be aware of?
MiraCosta has initiated a campus wide survey to take inventory of the scope of work that will need to be done to make sure that people with “x” gender markers are appropriately cared for within our processes and systems. A working group will begin identifying and coordinating the necessary changes in the coming months. Simultaneously, our LGBTQIA+ equity specialist will host a GRA information session on February 26 in OC 4612 from 12 - 1pm that is open to the entire campus. This information session will go over basic information regarding the bill and its impact. You should expect department specific trainings to roll out later this year.
I have more questions, who can I talk to?
If you have questions the legislations impact on MiraCosta and potential work in your department please reach out to:
- Nick Mortaloni, Interim Dean of Student Life & Judicial Affairs
- Hayley Schwartzkopf, Director of Labor Relations & Title IX Coordinator
If you have a question about the GRA in general or would like more information on non-binary gender identities please reach out to:
- India Pierce, LGBTQIA+ Equity student services specialist
Why is this important?
The Gender Recognition Act is one huge step toward equity and protection for transgender, instersex, and non-binary individuals. This legislation means that now individuals will have their identities legally recognized. For many transgender people across this nation, the old process of getting their gender legally changed included a series of intrusive medical assessments and long, demeaning interviews with psychiatrists in order to ‘prove’ their gender identity. For intersex and non-binary individuals there has been no process that would allow for a legal recognition of their gender identity. The Gender Recognition Act, makes this aspect of life a little bit easier for transgender, intersex, and non-binary people, affording them with the respect, recognition, and self-determination that they deserve.
Further, this legislation will help make it easier for organizations to provide adequate services and support for the transgender, non-binary, and intersex communities. Regardless of your role on this campus, it is all of our responsibility to make sure that we uphold MCCD Board Policy 3400.
“MiraCosta College is committed to providing a strong, supportive, and authentic environment where difference is valued, respected, encouraged, and honored; where all faculty, staff, and students experience a sense of belonging and the freedom to express themselves; and where their experiences are recognized and valued. MiraCosta College strives to be a model for equity and inclusion.”
Is non-binary the same as intersex and transgender?
No, non-binary, intersex, and transgender are three separate terms. Here are some definitions:
Gender identity and expression is often organized on binary. That’s to say that man and masculinity is on one end of the binary; and woman and femininity is on the other side. Non-binary, unlike cis-gender people do not see their gender identity as fitting on this strict binary. It is important to note that the term non-binary is at times used as an umbrella term, people whose gender exist outside of the binary may use terms like agender, gender fluid, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, etc. to describe themselves. It is also important to know that transgender people may identify within the binary and that others do not. Further, non-binary people may prefer the pronouns “they/them” in the singular, or their name.
Just like gender, biological sex is often thought of in binary terms (male and female). This is typically assigned at birth (and sometimes earlier if the parent requests to know the sex of their baby) and is typically done by examining the baby’s genitalia. However, what we know is that this does not account for all of the variations that occur biologically. Some people are born with chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones and/or genitalia which do not meet the medical standards of male or female. These infants are intersex. For more information please visit www.isna.org
Transgender is an umbrella term used to describe people whose gender identity does not match what would be expected of them based upon the sex that they were assigned at birth. For example, someone who were assigned male at birth but identifies and lives their life as a woman would use the gender identify of transwoman (or simply woman). Transgender people may identify within the gender binary (man, woman) and some may not (nonbinary, gender fluid, Two-spirit, etc.). Just as transgender people may or may not have been born with intersex traits.
People whose gender identity is aligned with the sex that they were assigned at birth. For example, a cis-gender who was assigned female at birth would use the gender identity of woman.
How do I address someone who is non-binary?
It is very important for us to remember that you cannot tell someone’s gender just by looking at them. Most of the time we are making assumptions based upon how someone presents themself. Asking people for the pronouns they use will prevent our wrong assumptions from causing undue harm and emotional distress.
Here are some phrases you can use to ask for someone’s pronouns:
- “What pronouns do you use?”
- “Can you remind me what pronouns you use?”
- “My name is Dan, and my pronouns are he and him. What about you?”
** A quick note about honorifics **
A honorific is a title that conveys respect and honor. Some common honorifics are: Ms., Mr., Mrs., Miss, and Dr. In many cases we address formal letters and emails by stating, “Dear Ms.______” and when receiving important phone calls we may hear, “Hello, may I speak to Mr._____.” For those who use gender neutral pronouns it may seem a bit confusing to select the correct honorific. Here are some suggestions:
- Ask. The best thing you can do in this situation is to ask the person how they’d like to be addressed.
- Use the person’s full name and do not use add a honorific.
- If the person has an honorific related to their occupation such as “Dr.,” “President,” “Captain,” “Rev.,” then use that instead of one that implies a particular gender.
- Use “Mx.” Mx (pronounced mix) is a gender neutral honorific. It was created so there would be an option that does not imply a particular gender. This term has been embraced by non-binary individuals and some feminists who prefer to not use honorifics that are based upon marital status.
When will we begin to see changes taking place on campus?
Change can often be a long and slow process. Please know that this is a top priority and work is being done to make sure that changes are happening swiftly. While each department’s scope of work is different we are committed to beginning this important this work this semester. Updates will posted regularly on this site. Feel free to check here periodically.