Article Lead Image

Could a petition force the White House to address nonbinary genders?

This is one We the People petition worth looking into. 


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw


Posted on Mar 22, 2014   Updated on May 31, 2021, 2:32 pm CDT

A White House petition to legally recognize nonbinary genders has managed 34,000 signatures in less than two days.

At the moment, legal documents in the U.S. only allow two gender options: male and female. Critics claim that actively discriminates against people who do not identify with either of the traditionally recognized genders.

Along with the difficulties faced by people who identify as nonbinary or genderqueer in later life, the current system also forces newborn babies to be quantified as male or female. In cases where a child is born with physical attributes that don’t fit in with one single gender, the necessity of marking down this distinction on a birth certificate can lead to people being arbitrarily assigned a gender that they do not identify with later as adults. In turn, this can also lead to parents or doctors deciding on surgical procedures that the child could regret when they grow old enough to understand their own true gender identity.

Several countries already offer nonbinary options on official government paperwork, including New Zealand, Australia, and Germany. Since 2003, Australian citizens have been allowed to mark their gender as “X,” a term that allows for any gender identity outside the binary of male and female. In Germany, parents can choose to mark their children as “indeterminate” gender on birth certificates, as an attempt to avoid forcing the issue of surgery when children are born with ambiguous genitalia. (It’s worth noting that the U.S. government is well behind Facebook in this regard, as the social network currently offers over 50 different gender options.)

The We The People petition follows up on a previous effort that only received 47,000 signatures within its allotted month. As these petitions must receive at least 100,000 signatures to be officially recognized by the White House, the previous campaign’s failure seems to have spurred on this one’s growing success.

There’s still a long way to go, 34,000 signatures in less than 48 hours is nothing to sniff at, and if the message keeps spreading at this rate, the White House will have no choice but to comment on the topic when the petition closes on April 20.

Photo via vjnet/Flickr

Share this article
*First Published: Mar 22, 2014, 6:20 pm CDT