An Oregon judge has issued the first ruling in the U.S. allowing an individual to identify as agender, meaning "without gender."
Judge Amy Holmes Hehn issued a "General Judgment of Name and Sex Change" for Patch, a 27-year-old Portland resident on March 10, NBC News reported. As part of the ruling, Patch also now has a single name for identification, rather than two names.
Patch explained that gender is not something which people identifying as agender feel.
"As a kid, probably starting around age 6, gender didn't make sense to me," Patch said. "I was told 'men were this, women were this.' As a teen I learned about transgender people, and that didn't seem like what I was. And then I learned about genderqueer, and that didn't seem like what I was."
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"Even gender-neutral pronouns don't feel as if they fit me. I feel no identity or closeness with any pronouns I've come across ... What describes me is my name," added Patch.
In June 2016, Holmes Hehn became the judge who issued the first ruling allowing a transgender person to become non-binary, The Associated Press reported.
Holmes Hehn said both rulings were legally justified.
"I made these decisions, like all decisions, because they were supported by facts and law, and out of respect for the dignity of the people who came before me," she told NBC.
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Advocacy groups welcomed the latest decision.
"This is the first time that Sylvia Rivera Law Project has heard about this, and we applaud the court recognizing the person as they are," said Kyle Rapinan, an attorney. "We hope that other government agencies will help people self-determine their gender identity, which also includes the option to identify without a gender."
"Some neutrois do feel completely genderless," explains Neutrois.com, an online resource that was set up to assist those who identify as agender. "That is, they have no gender, an absence of gender, or are null gendered. Others have an internal gender that is neither male, nor female, just neutral. Agender is a term used interchangeably for both."
Patch, a video game designer who studies creative writing at Portland Community College, spoke about one of the major challenges faced by agender people: government forms. Patch advocates making the gender section optional.
"Having a blank field still allows other genders to exist," said Patch. "But you should let people opt-in to that. Forcing it is weird."
Patch went on to note that the idea of having to state a gender was itself problematic.
"I think it's creepy that society wants to track such personal information about everybody," added Patch. "Why does it matter? But we do exist in that system, and since we do, we can't just scrap it all."