Nonbinary Oregonians, Basic Rights Oregon, and the ACLU of Oregon today filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Oregon Court of Appeals in support of a Eugene resident who was denied their petition for a gender marker change. Jones Hollister’s gender is nonbinary, but their petition for a nonbinary gender marker was denied by Lane County Circuit Court Judge Charles D. Carlson earlier this year. Hollister’s appeal of the decision was filed last week with the Oregon Court of Appeals.
Nonbinary is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity falls outside the binary gender categories of male and female. A nonbinary person may define their gender as falling somewhere in between male and female, or they may define it as wholly different from these terms. A nonbinary person may or may not describe themselves using the word transgender.
In January, Hollister went to the Lane County Courthouse to get the state forms for changing their name and legal gender marker.
“I read the option for ‘nonbinary’ and cried,” Hollister said. “I'm nonbinary. I was raised as a girl, but I am not a she. I never have been. I'm a they.”
But Hollister’s feelings of inclusion quickly changed when the judge denied their petition.
“The judge told me that he wouldn't let me be nonbinary,” Hollister said . “I have spent my life marking an ‘F’ on forms, and it isn’t representative of who I am. I am not a female, and I am not a male. I am nonbinary.”
Hollister’s attorney, Lorena Reynolds, attorney at The Reynolds Law Firm in Corvallis, says that while judges in other counties grant requests, nonbinary Oregonians in Lane County and some other rural parts of the state regularly get denied.
“All Oregonians, including nonbinary Oregonians, need accurate identity documents,” Reynolds said. “Rural Oregonians should not be treated differently by the courts. People who live outside the gender binary have always been a part of our families and communities. As a legal system, we are finally addressing the harm done when nonbinary people do not have access to legal recognition.”