An Oregon judge ruled Friday that a transgender person can legally change their sex to “non-binary” rather than male or female in what legal experts believe is a first in the United States.
Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Amy Holmes Hehn legally changed 52-year-old Jamie Shupe’s sex from “female” to non-binary.
Nancy Haque, a co-executive director for Basic Rights Oregon, called the ruling a “momentous day for genderqueer Oregonians.”
“It’s really exciting for the courts to actually recognize what we know to be true: gender is a spectrum,” Haque said. “Some people don’t identify as male or female.”
Shupe, an Army veteran who retired in 2000 a sergeant first class, began transitioning in 2013 while living in Pittsburg. Shupe knew then that neither male nor female fit. Shupe chose “Jamie” as a new first name primarily because it is a gender-neutral name. Shupe prefers to be called “Jamie,” rather than by a pronoun.
“I was assigned male at birth due to biology,” Shupe said. “I’m stuck with that for life. My gender identity is definitely feminine. My gender identity has never been male, but I feel like I have to own up to my male biology. Being non-binary allows me to do that. I’m a mixture of both. I consider myself as a third sex.”
But female or male were the only legal options Shupe saw then. Shupe chose female, but female never felt right. In April, Shupe and lawyer Lake Perriguey filed a petition with the Oregon court to legally change Shupe’s sex.
Oregon law allows a court to change a person’s legal sex if a judge determines the person has undergone surgical, hormonal or other treatment related to a gender transition. The law does not require a note from a doctor.
Shupe brought letters from Oregon Health & Science University, as well as the Veterans Affairs hospital, anyway.
“The sexual reassignment has been completed,” Hehn wrote in the ruling. “No person has shown cause why the requested General Judgment should not be granted.”