Sara Kelly Keenan First Person to Receive U.S. Intersex Birth Certificate


Sara Kelly Keenan has become the first known person in New York State and the U.S. to receive an intersex birth certificate. Keenan was born with male genes, female genitalia and mixed reproductive organs and has finally received an accurate birth certificate to reflect that.

In the states, birth certificates provide access to a wide range of public services and identification documents like state IDs and passports. Keenan and others having the opportunity to gain a birth certificate with a third gender identification provides an enormous sense of validation for a number of non-binary and intersex people.

Intersex refers to individuals whose reproductive or sexual anatomy does not fit with the definition of female or male. Non-binary refers to individuals whose gender identity does not fit the male and female binary. For example, those who identity as androgynous, intergender, or genderfluid fall under the non-binary realm.

In a video featured on NOWTHIS, Keenan described her experience growing up “I always knew I was something other than what the boys were and something other than what the girls were but I didn’t know what that was,” she said. “And I thought I was alone in the world with whatever it was.”

You can watch the full video here:

Keenan hopes her breakthrough will push science to catch up and in the future gender identity can go beyond the constraints of male, female and intersex. Keenan is also working on the front lines as a paralegal for the Intersex and Genderqueer Recognition Project and will continue to advocate for change in gender recognition. Even though not all intersex individuals will identify as intersex, for those that do, Keenan believes the option must be there. Keenan is giving young intersex people, those born and not yet born, a chance at a better future.

According to the NBC News, “Keenan’s historic birth certificate arrived during a historic year for gender politics that began with the nation’s first legally non-binary person, Jamie Shupe—who changed gender in Oregon this June. Keenan’s case is also a parallel to that of Dana Zzyym, a Colorado Intersex person who filed a lawsuit against the State Department after the agency refused to issue a third-gender passport. All three cases have led to government agencies racing to catch up, unable to ignore court orders and city-issued documents.”

Keenan has also set up meeting with the California DMV to try and get her license to reflect her intersex identification. As of now it is unclear what form and when the change will take place.

Will Keenan’s driver’s license say “I” intersex or “NB” non-binary? Will the Supreme Court order the State Department to add a third gender to passports as a result of the Zzyym case? The details are uncertain but what is abundantly clear is that this movement will force all government agencies to look at each of these cases.

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