I desperately want to be legally married to my girlfriend so that she can have health insurance through me while we work towards being independent and out enough in our respective gender identities to have a social ceremony with our conservative families. There are a couple of barriers even to legal marriage for us, and I was hoping to knock one of them out ASAP, which is the genders on our marriage license.
Here's the deal: I'm non-binary, and she's binary trans. Neither of us have done anything to medically or therapeutically transition and probably won't be any time soon. We were both born and currently live in Tennessee, so even if we did medically transition, I'm pretty sure we're out of luck when it comes to changing our birth certificates. It would be ideal to have a marriage license that uses gender neutral terms like “partner” or “spouse.”
Are there any states which have gender neutral marriage certificate language or allow someone who has not transitioned to check off their actual gender identity rather than their assigned one?
This is a really great question and one I had to do some digging to figure it out, so I can see why you'd be confused. With Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, you're allowed to marry each other legally in the U.S. regardless of your assigned gender, gender expression, or sex, but I can tell that having the marriage certificate be accurate to you is important.
Tennessee in particular is tricky as it's listed as not offering gender neutral certificates, but some of their applications do use gender neutral terms. Checking with your local county clerk would be step one.
Outside of Tennessee, here's what we know about which states allow gender neutral marriage licenses and certificates…
States which have gender neutral marriage certificates
Disclaimer: some of these are liable to change without notice and some are speculative based on media reporting. This also isn't an exhaustive list. If you have a state or city in mind, call the local city hall to verify that they do have this as their standard.
Many states' marriage licenses and certificates are now gender neutral, including:
California: In 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed a law requiring the replacement of “husband” or “wife” with the gender neutral term “spouse.”
Florida: In 2015, The Bureau of Vital Statistics, under the Florida Department of Health, issued marriage certificates and license applications displaying “spouse” and “spouse,” instead of “bride” and “groom.”
Georgia: This Southern state uses “Applicant 1” and “Applicant 2” as their gender neutral marriage license terms. (source: Lambda Legal)
Massachusetts: Marriage certificates at the City of Cambridge in Massachusetts ask for a binary sex, but by special permission, this can be left blank, so the marriage certificate has no gender on it. (Source: Wikipedia)
New York: According to Lambda Legal, New York uses “Spouse A” and “Spouse B” terminology on their licences and certificates.
Washington state: According to the same source, Washington also uses gender neutral terminology on their licences and certificates.
Again, this isn't an exhaustive list, is not intended as legal advice, and will need verification on any state before you head out there. Lambda Legal has a great FAQ about transgender marriage rights you may want to peruse as well. They also offer this advice: “If your state is still issuing marriage licenses that are not gender neutral or do not reflect your gender identity, contact Lambda Legal’s Legal Help Desk at 1-866-542-8336 or lambdalegal.org/help.”
More advice for transgender and non-binary couples: