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Oregon Court Rules Non-Binary As A Legal Gender

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It’s the first ruling of its kind in the U.S.

Friday was a big day for genderqueer, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people in the United States. An Oregon circuit court ruled that Portland resident Jamie Shupe could change their gender from female to non-binary. This is a historic ruling, as it's the first of its kind in the U.S., and could potentially challenge federal policy, which currently doesn't legally reconize gender fluid citizens.

Shupe is an army veteran who began a gender transition in 2013 at the age of 49. Assigned male at birth, Shupe peitioned to change their gender from male to female, and then eventually from female to non-binary. Shupe prefers not to use gender pronouns and uses the prefix "Mx." 

"Male and female are the traditional categories, but they fail to properly categorize people like me. So I challenged that," Shupe told the Daily Dot

Shupe and their attorney filed for a sex change, as the court refers to it, on April 27, with two letters from Shupe's primary care doctors stating Shupe's gender should be classified as non-binary. This ruling will allow any Oregon resident to legally change their gender to non-binary. As for Shupe's identity documents, they told the Daily Dot that their “first goal is to tackle the Oregon DMV.”

The court's decision will hopefully push the U.S. one step closer to federally recognizing genders other than female and male, like some other countries already have, including Austrailia, Denmark, Nepal, and New Zealand. 

“This is incredibly humbling to be the first person to accomplish this," Shupe said. "I hope the impact will be that it opened the legal doorway for all that choose to do so to follow me through. We don’t deserve to be classified improperly against our will.”

She considers herself "one of the luckiest kids on the face of the earth"

Dani Okon, NYLON's associate creative director of video, sat down with her great-aunt, May Okon, to talk about their shared experiences—despite vastly different time frames—living as queer women in New York City. Prior to retirement, May was a journalist for the New York Daily News, having first entered the male-dominated workforce when "the boys were all at war." And, of course, she absolutely killed it. Her only regret? "Retiring at 55," she tells Dani, joking, "Who the hell knew I was gonna live to 100?"

Upon retiring, she moved out to the Hamptons with her partner and bought a home. If she had to do it all over, May says "there are a lot of things I wouldn't do," but she still considers herself "one of the luckiest kids on the face of the earth." Get to know May in the video, above.

Check out the other videos in our series where we placed queer people from different generations in conversation with one another:

Rob Smith and Eddie Jarrel Jones
Lauren Morelli and Garcia
Marlene Colburn and Naima Green
Ashlee Marie Preston and Devan Diaz

Produced by: Alexandra Hsie
Camera: Gretta Wilson + Katie Sadler
Edited by: Madeline Stedman

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Here's how they're making sure it doesn't happen

Lauren Morelli, the showrunner and executive producer for the new Netflix show Tales of the City, is fostering a space where multiple queer realities can be shown on-screen. She spoke with one of the cast members, trans actor Garcia (who plays Jake Rodriguez on the show), and, in the video above, they explore why it's wrong to treat queer stories as representative of the entire community. Tokenization is something that they both want to avoid at all costs, and they're on the right track.

Check out the other videos in our series where we placed queer people from different generations in conversation with one another:

Dani and May Okon
Rob Smith and Eddie Jarrel Jones
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Ashlee Marie Preston and Devan Diaz

Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Directed by Charlotte Prager
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"Nothing is truly a binary"

We put non-binary activist Eddie Jarrel Jones and The Phluid Project founder Rob Smith in conversation with each other, and the two spoke some powerful truths about the continued gendering of products like makeup and clothing. Smith recalls that 30 years ago, the only way that he was able to experience the joys of playing with makeup was to work at a beauty counter. Even today, Jones notes that it's hard for non-binary femmes like them, or even trans women, to get that experience in stores.

In the video above, get a sense of why Smith created a genderless store, and see how important it is for people like Jones to have a space where they don't feel criticized for dressing like they want.

Check out the other videos in our series where we placed queer people from different generations in conversation with one another:

Dani and May Okon
Lauren Morelli and Garcia
Naima Green and Marlene Colburn
Ashlee Marie Preston and Devan Diaz

Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Directed by Charlotte Prager
Shot by Charlotte Prager + Dani Okon
Edited by Gretta Wilson

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We put the two activists in conversation

Marlene Colburn, one of the founders of the Dyke March, and Naima Green, an artist currently working on a project and archive called Pur·suit, which will document queer people of all identities, agree that it's really hard to find lesbian spaces that aren't bars. Just as hard, it seems, is to find lesbian representation that isn't white. In the video above, the two talk about how they are creating space for queer people and what that looks like within two different generations.

Check out the other videos in our series where we placed queer people from different generations in conversation with one another:

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