Vermont parents can now select a non-binary marker for their children’s initial birth certificates.
While it is already legal to amend birth certificates if a child is nonbinary, the state’s health department will now allow babies to be identified as such at birth.
“We felt that by telling people they have to choose one of the binary genders and then can later amend, it delegitimizes the nonbinary gender marker,” said Meg York, lead attorney for LGBTQ+ Family Law Project at The South Royalton Legal Clinic at Vermont Law and Graduate School, to VTDigger. “It implies that ‘M’ or ‘F’ are really the true genders.”
York also said that the clinic’s goal is to “make the most lives livable” and explained that the nonbinary gender marker can act “as a placeholder until the child can identify with a gender on their own,” in addition to being something parents of intersex children may feel more comfortable using.
The victory came about after the clinic filed an appeal to the Vermont Department of Health, which initially denied parents the right to use nonbinary gender markers on a child’s original birth certificate.
The development comes after last year’s passage of Act 88, which made it easier for Vermont residents to change the gender marker on their birth certificates, eliminating several bureaucratic barriers and requirements. The effort was spearheaded by trans state Rep. Taylor Small (D), who in 2020 became the first out trans person elected to the Vermont State Legislature.
In an interview with LGBTQ Nation at the time, Small stressed the importance of having marginalized communities represented in state legislatures.
“Something that is really important when we focus on marginalized communities is the lens we bring when looking at bills and legislation. When people in power are typically white, older, wealthier, cisgender, [and] straight, their lens is in supporting the systems of power that already exist.”