Shupe in 2018
|Born||August 10, 1963|
Washington, D.C., United States
|Branch||United States Army|
|Rank||Sergeant First Class|
James Clifford Shupe (born 1963; formerly Jamie Shupe) is a retired United States Army soldier who in 2016 became the first person in the United States to obtain legal recognition of a non-binary gender. In 2019, he released a statement explaining that he had "returned to [his] male birth sex". He has since become a vocal critic of the concept of gender identity.
Born male, Shupe grew up in southern Maryland as one of eight children. He and his wife, Sandy, were married in 1987; they have one daughter. He served in the U.S. Army for 18 years, receiving a number of military decorations, and retired in 2000 as a sergeant first class.
Shupe has written that he was physically and sexually abused by relatives during childhood. He recalls his mother punishing him for behaving like a "sissy", and says that he was denied the right to explore his gender expression or gender identity. That suppression continued through his military career, which included periods before and during Don't ask, don't tell. After he retired, Shupe began living as a transgender woman in 2013. He chose the gender-neutral first name "Jamie" and convinced the Army to change his sex marker to female on military records.
In June 2016, Shupe successfully petitioned a Multnomah County, Oregon, court to change his sex designation to non-binary, in the first legal recognition of a non-binary gender in the United States. That November, he was issued a birth certificate in Washington, D.C., with a sex marker of "unknown". Lambda Legal later cited Shupe's petition as a legal precedent for non-binary gender markers in the passport lawsuit Zzyym v. Pompeo.
In 2018 James and his wife moved to Ocala, Florida where James says he feels safe and in a community that aligns well with his values. James keeps a low profile in his community, but still is an advocate against the use of hormones to treat gender dysphoria.
In January 2019, Shupe announced that he no longer identified as non-binary and was returning to identifying as male. He said that his original motivation for transition was autogynephilia and that he was experiencing symptoms of psychosis when he sought a non-binary sex marker. In March, he changed his first name back to James.
In December of 2019, James successfully petitioned the court responsible for his "non-binary" gender designation to restore the sex listed on his birth certificate to "male." The petition filed by Shupe described the sex designation of "non-binary" as "psychologically harmful legal fiction."
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