New York City Issues the First U.S. Intersex Birth Certificate

Sara Kelly Keenan (LGBTQ Nation)

Sara Kelly Keenan (LGBTQ Nation)

In December 2016, New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene re-issued a birth certificate to Sara Kelly Keenan. The action made history: Keenan’s corrected birth certificate denoted her intersex identity. (Keenan uses female pronouns.) The new birth certificate is the first one ever in the U.S. to note the gender identity.

The term “intersex” refers to a physical condition where one’s anatomy does not fully line up as either male or female. Keenan is “genetically male with female genitalia and mixed internal reproductive anatomy.” When Keenan was born, her birth certificate originally read “male,” but was changed to “female” three weeks later.

This change has been a long time coming, seeing as Keenan is 55 years old. She’s seen a lot of changes, especially within the fields of reproductive health and anatomy: When Keenan was born, “hermaphrodite” was the commonly accepted term for her condition.

Previous to the birth certificate change, Keenan had self-identified as non-binary (that is, neither male nor female).

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