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An Oregon Court Just Legally Recognized the First American as Nonbinary

An Oregon Court Just Legally Recognized the First American as Nonbinary

One Oregon court just made history.

When Jamie made their way to a Portland circuit court to petition their gender identity, they expected a challenge. Jamie, a 49-year-old who identifies as nonbinary — preferring they/them pronouns and only a first name—argued that neither sex appropriately represented them, and the judge obliged, marking a ground-breaking moment for genderqueer individuals everywhere.

Jamie, born with male anatomy, grew up strongly identifying as a female. They underwent hormone therapy and began transitioning to be a woman, only to realize that both labels "fail to properly categorize" them. It was then that Jamie began their second petition for sex change. The first changed their sex from male to female, and this one would change it from female to nonbinary — a gender identity no legal court had officially recognized before.

To be clear, nonbinary and transgender aren’t exactly the same thing. The term "nonbinary" (synonymous with "genderqueer" or "gender-expansive" is a catch-all term describing any gender identity that isn't exclusively masculine or feminine. The term "transgender" falls under this umbrella, but that doesn’t mean all nonbinary people are transgender. Some nonbinary people, like Jamie, don’t identify with either sex, whereas transgender people do.

"As far as we know, this may be the first ruling of its kind in the U.S.," Ilona Turner, the Transgender Law Center’s legal director, told the "Daily Dot." "This is an important step toward ensuring that nonbinary members of our community have access to identity documents that reflect who they are, just like everyone else." Since this sets a precedent, it's unclear where legal gender identity documentation will go from here. But Jamie's next stop is the DMV.

"This is incredibly humbling to be the first person to accomplish this," Jamie said. "I hope the impact will be that it opened the legal doorway for all that choose to do so to follow me through. We don't deserve to be classified improperly against our will."

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Photo Credit: Facebook / Jamie Shupe