Response to We the People Petition on Non-Binary Genders
By Roy Austin
Thank you for your petition requesting that the executive branch legally recognize genders outside of the male-female binary and provide an option for these genders on all legal documents and records.
We know how important this issue is, and we understand the profound impact, both symbolic and otherwise, of having official documents that accurately reflect an individual's identity. These documents play an essential, functional role, but also demonstrate the measure of dignity and respect afforded to our nation's citizens. We cannot overstate the care and seriousness that should be brought to bear on the issue.
We recognize the importance of gender identification in particular and the Obama Administration is working to modernize federal policies in this area. For example, in 2010, the U.S. Department of State made it easier for individuals to update the gender marker in their passports. And last year, the Social Security Administration followed suit by simplifying the process for individuals to change the gender marker on their social security cards to reflect their identity accurately.
As you can imagine, there is considerable variance across agencies and levels of government. And so while the Obama Administration wants to make sure that official documents reflect the identities of the Americans who hold them, we believe proposals to change when and how gender is listed on official documents should be considered on a case-by-case basis by the affected federal and state agencies. However, that consideration must be informed by best practices and a commitment to honoring individuality and ensuring fairness.
Thank you again for your petition. We appreciate your input and the opportunity to convey our shared commitment.
Learn more: See what President Obama has done to advance equality for the LGBT community.
Roy Austin is the Deputy Assistant to the President for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice, and Opportunity in the Domestic Policy Council