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Oregon Residents Can Be 'Agender' as Well as 'Non-Binary'

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on March 28, 2017 12:57 PM

Less than a year after approving a transgender female's petition to change the gender listed in legal documents to "non-binary," an Oregon judge has signed off on another resident's request to change their gender to "agender."

"I don't consider myself non-binary because that's an umbrella term for anything that isn't binary, which is gender identity," Patch, nee Patrick Abbatiello, told the Associated Press. "I never felt like I fell within any part of the gender spectrum. None of the binary options, nothing in-between."

Finding a Place in the Law

Patch, who applied for a change to the single name at the same time, said the process was fairly simple: "The judge took the form and signed it through. Took a look at it and that was it. Didn't speak to me or anything." Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Amy Holmes Hehn defended her ruling, thought to be the first in the country, in an email to NBC News: "I made these decisions, like all decisions, because they were supported by facts and law, and out of respect for the dignity of the people who came before me."

People who are agender do not identify themselves as having a particular gender, whether male, female, or anywhere in between. While this can be confused with asexual, agender applies to a person's identity, rather than their sexual organs or sexual desires, and can be a statement of not having a gender identity:

"As a kid, probably starting around age 6, gender didn't make sense to me," Patch told NBC News. "I was told 'men were this, women were this.' As a teen I learned about transgender people, and that didn't seem like what I was. And then I learned about genderqueer, and that didn't seem like what I was."

Jumping Through Legal Hoops

As we noted in regards to Judge Homes Hehn's earlier ruling, Oregonians may not be able to elect "agender" or "non-binary" on their driver's licenses or state-issued identification cards, but they may be able to abstain from declaring a gender on their IDs.

And while Oregon might be leading the way in allowing less rigid gender identity distinctions under their state laws, not all states are following suit. Some may have more stringent requirements, like a sworn affidavit or evidence that a petitioner has "undergone clinically appropriate treatment for change of gender," before they will grant a change of gender legal documents. And a few states, you may need to submit proof that your sex has been changed by surgical procedure.

If you're concerned with changing your gender in legal forms, or removing it, contact an experienced attorney first.

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