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Non-binary Californians will be first to get official recognition – if these activists get their way

Josh Jackman May 4, 2017
non-binary activists sara kelly keenan and carly mitchell

Non-binary Californians will be the first in the US to check their actual gender on official forms if these activists get their way.

“Society doesn’t understand that we exist,” said Carly Mitchell, a Californian resident who’s leading the charge with fellow activist Sara Kelly Keenan.

Speaking to local news channel KCRA, Mitchell – who is non-binary – said it would be life-changing if Senate Bill 179 is signed into law.

SB 179, which was first proposed in January, would “ensure that intersex, transgender, and non-binary people have state-issued identification documents that provide full legal recognition of their accurate gender identity.”

The bill also emphasises that “gender identification is fundamentally personal, and the state should endeavour to provide options on state-issued identification documents that recognise a person’s accurate gender identification.”

If passed through the Senate and Assembly, the bill would mean a third gender option would be included on driving licences and birth certificates.

Mitchell said that “having this license protects me from job discrimination, from imprisonment in many cases.”

Her partner in the fight, Californian resident Sara Kelly Keenan, was the first person to receive a re-issued birth certificate from New York City last year defining her as intersex.

Keenan was born intersex, with male genes, female genitalia and mixed internal reproductive organs.

“My body looks quite different from other women,” Keenan said.

The bill has been successfully voted through two committees, and Keenan and Mitchell are confident of getting it through the remaining legislative hurdles.

The activists say they have support from Democrats, and that even some Republicans have abstained from voting so far.

Attorney Toby Adams added: “We’ve met with the Department of Motor Vehicles, who is very supportive of providing this non-binary option.”

Once they’ve passed it through the Californian legislative system, the activists plan to take this issue to the federal government.

In Britain, Stonewall called for a non-binary option to be added to passports last month, in a move which the charity said would also help trans people.

Days earlier, banking giant HSBC marked International Transgender Day of Visibility by introducing 10 new gender-neutral titles for customers.

More: California, gender, gender neutral, gender recognition, intersex, New York City, non-binary, senate bill 179, US, US

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