New York becomes the first city in the United States to issue a birth certificate with “intersex” in the gender field.
New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene corrected the original birth certificate of Sara Kelly Keenan, making the city the first in the US to issue an intersex birth certificate.
Sara Kelly Keenan was born in Brooklyn 55 years ago as a female. However, she received her corrected intersex birth certificate on Tuesday in the mail at her home in Santa Cruz, California.
“It was wonderful. It was the first time I saw ‘intersex’ in print related to my name,” she said. “When I applied in court, I chose ‘non-binary,’ because that’s an umbrella term that would also include gender variant people.”
“A person may amend their birth certificate to have ‘intersex’ reflected on their birth certificate with appropriate documentary evidence from a US-licensed doctor,” said Julien A. Martinez, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. “The department will continue to work with community partners as we adopt changes to more accurately reflect a person’s sex.”
Keenan requested the term without strictly basing it on medical proof, and so she found the city’s recognition of her gender “really validating.”
“Ultimately, the term “intersex” “carries more personal significance to me than ‘non-binary,’ ” she said.
Intersex is the general term used for those who do not typically fit the traditional definition of male or female.
Keenan was born to her mother out of wedlock in a Brooklyn hospital. She stayed there for three weeks and was then transferred to the Angel Guardian Home orphanage. She was in foster care for about five months before she was adopted by a couple in Long Island.
She claims that she has no records of whether she underwent genital surgery before she was adopted, a typical occurrence for intersex children at the time, according to the Intersex Society of North America.
“I don’t know enough about what happened to me as an infant, because the medical records were tied up in a sealed adoption, and then the medical records at the hospital were destroyed in a fire in the ’70s,” she said.