A judge in Oregon has granted a petition allowing a person to legally choose neither sex and be classified as nonbinary: an important development for transgender Americans while civil rights and sexual identity are in the national spotlight, advocates and legal experts said.
Though the petition was granted with little fanfare in a two-paragraph decision on Friday, the experts said that, to their knowledge, the ruling was the first of its kind in the country.
Kris Hayashi, executive director of the Transgender Law Center in Oakland, Calif., described the decision in an email as a “historic step” toward the government’s recognizing “nonbinary members of our community and ensuring they have access to identity documents that reflect who they are, just like everyone else.”
The petitioner seeking the new designation, Jamie Shupe of Portland, Ore., is a retired United States Army sergeant born with male anatomy who had successfully battled the military to be given discharge papers that reflected the female sex.
Jamie — who prefers to use only a first name and the pronouns “they” and “their,” instead of singular pronouns — underwent hormone treatments to transition to a woman. But ultimately, neither sex fit, Jamie said in an interview on Friday.
Expecting the judge to challenge the bid for nonbinary status, the petitioner went to court with letters from two doctors attesting that Jamie is neither male nor female.
Photo: Sandy Shupe / The New York Times