District adds third gender option on school enrollment forms

Meredith Simon

DCPS provided a third gender choice on enrollment forms for the next school year. The new option, denoted as an “X” rather than the traditional “M” or “F,” is for non-binary students or those who do not strictly identify with one gender.  DC is among the first school districts in the country to adopt this measure.

The policy was first proposed during Form-a-Palooza, which is a District-wide event where community members can propose changes to make DC government forms more accessible and simple. The decision follows a similar change made last year by the DC Department of Motor Vehicles that allowed people to identify as non-binary on their driver’s license.

The implication of these changes on single-sex activities like sports is unclear, but appear to be non-existent. There have been no upheavals in the athletics department nor has there been any mention of adjusting sports teams to accommodate non-binary and transgender athletes.

The decision directly contradicts the Education Department’s planned federal policy to recognize students only as the gender they were assigned at birth. This does not necessarily mean that the new DCPS policy would be overridden, but it would mean that transgender students would essentially no longer be able to file a federal complaint against their school for discrimination, such as not having access to facilities.

While the change is a significant advancement for the status of non-binary students in DCPS, some students believe the policy could go further. “Even though having a third gender option is cool, I personally would like to be able to change my gender marker,” said a transgender boy at Duke Ellington who chose to remain anonymous, “Binary trans people should be able to change their gender marker to align with their identity. Marking them as X is misgendering them.”

The recognition of non-binary students on enrollment forms joins other attempts at gender inclusivity within DCPS. Last year, Wilson installed bathroom signs that encouraged students to use whichever bathroom matched their gender identity at the urging of the Gay Straight Alliance.. The Human Rights Committee named DCPS one of the leading schools for transgender equality in the nation because of its robust anti-bullying policies, an LGBTQ steering committee, and a clear Transgender and Gender non-conforming policy guidance.