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In Boston, councilors propose gender-inclusive city forms and certificates

Councilor Michelle Wu is pushing for all city forms, documents, and certificates that have a gender designation to include a non-binary option.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

A pair of Boston city councilors are pushing for all city forms, documents, and certificates that have a gender designation to include a nonbinary option.

Language is important, according to Councilor Michelle Wu, one of the proposal’s backers. Wu recently said multiple constituents have reached out to her to convey that they did not feel their identities were reflected in some city forms.

“We work a lot on the big picture legislation and programs that are pushed out for equity and inclusion and it’s also important that every interaction that people have with city hall reflects that,” said Wu, who is running for mayor, during a brief phone interview last week.


Wu’s proposal states that “social science research has established that the use of gender-inclusive pronouns reduces bias and promotes healthy, positive societal views.”

The city, according to the proposal, has an obligation to ensure that language used on city forms “does not discriminate by sex, social gender or gender and does not perpetuate gender stereotypes but rather reflects the diversity of all our residents.”

Wu sponsored the proposal with Councilor Liz Breadon. The matter is expected to be discussed at Wednesday’s council meeting.

The city initiative comes after state authorities last year started allowing Massachusetts residents to choose a non-binary gender designation on state driver’s licenses.

The state’s Registry of Motor Vehicles now recognizes three gender designation options: “male,” “female,” and “non-binary.” Those options are available for new credentials, renewals, and amendments of licenses and IDs. When Massachusetts made the change, it joined a group of more than a dozen states that allow a third, gender-neutral option on driver’s licenses.

Tre’Andre Valentine, the executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, said the proposal was important.

“The city is acknowledging that non-binary people exist and that they’re being included,” said Valentine. “We’ve not really had that before.”


Valentine wanted state authorities to pass similar legislation that would require non-binary options on other documents, like birth certificates and school IDs. Without such options, non-binary people are running to problems because some of their documents have mismatched information, which Valentine said could be “anxiety-inducing.”

“There’s definitely progress here to see they’re thinking of this,” said Valentine of the Boston proposal during a Monday phone interview.

Danny McDonald can be reached at Follow him @Danny__McDonald.