On Tuesday, Sara Kelly Keenan received the country’s first intersex certificate. The document was issued in New York and finally makes Keenan feel she has an accurate birth certificate. The paper is the start to identify better people that do not relate to the male or female gender alone.
Keenan was born intersex, although she discovered this truth when she was already an adult. Sara Kelly Keenan uses female pronouns and was born with male genes, female genitalia, and mixed internal reproductive organs. Her case will be known in the United States history as the first certificate ever issued that reads intersex in the gender field, educating the public about the intersex reality.
“As far as interACT is aware, [Keenan’s] is the first birth certificate with the designation ‘intersex,'” said Alesdair Ittelson, Deputy Legal Director at interACT, an intersex advocacy group. “We are aware of one other reissued birth certificate that reads ‘hermaphrodite’ and several that do not have a sex specified.”
Keenan told NBC Out that not all intersex people would choose to identify legally as intersex and that not all parents would agree to have their intersex child identified as intersex on birth documents. Still, she believes that for those who would do it, the option must exist.
In the U.S, birth certificates provide access to a wide range of public services and essential identity documents, including IDs and passports. Thus, having the option to choose intersex rather than only female or male gives a proper validation sense for non-binary and intersex citizens, explained Lambda Legal attorney Paul Castillo.
Being intersex and discovering it being an adult: A secret well kept
Keenan was unaware she was born intersex most of her adult life because her parents and doctors agreed to keep her anatomical reality a secret.
She was born in New York City 55 years ago and was first classified as a boy. Three weeks later, her birth certificate read female in the gender field.
More than a half-century ago, intersex people were called “hermaphrodites” and surgery was almost always recommended to make the child fit one of the two known genders: Female and male.
Keenan started hormone replacement therapy at age 16. She did not know exactly what her condition was and was vaguely informed she could not make hormones even though she was a girl.
Regarding surgery, Keenan’s father confessed to her in 2012 that doctors suggested a chirurgical intervention to construct a penis and match her male genes, but her father refused.
Embracing who you are while paving the way for others struggling to be identified as intersex
Keenan first made headlines in September, when a judge allowed her to become the first California resident to change her gender to “non-binary.”
Now, Keenan made the headlines again after the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) issued the first birth certificate identifying an intersex U.S. citizen. Keenan has now two legal genders, each accurate since she falls between or outside the gender binary. The document was issued on Tuesday, December 27.
Keenan stated that her birth certificate is a “legal way for other intersex people who choose to embrace it in the same way to do so with a legally recognized sex marker.”
After being lied for so many years, Keenan said that her new birth certificate has given her the energy to fight society’s ignorance of the intersex community.
Source: NBC News