California Is Ready To Recognize A Third Gender. Is The Rest Of The Country?
The most populous state is on track to become the first to legally recognize being nonbinary — neither male nor female — as a third gender option. Ready or not, America
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The article also says that Keenan will attend their hometown school the University of California-Santa Cruz (Maya Rudolph’s alma mater), where their peers will include senior @psychespike and grad student @elierlick.
Late last year, Star Hagen-Esquerra began thinking it was time for a legal name change. Star had been going by that name for two years, since coming out at age 15 to friends and family as nonbinary — identifying as neither a woman nor man and choosing to use plural, nongendered pronouns. But now they were 17, stretching toward adulthood, and confronting all of adulthood’s tedious paperwork. Star had a driver’s license with the wrong name on it. They had begun applying to colleges, also under the wrong name. This was a problem for a few reasons, but mostly because Star really liked to follow the rules. And yet every time they had to fill out an official form, Star felt almost fraudulent, writing down a name they barely recognized on the rare occasion they heard it said aloud. And so 10 days after the presidential election, when the Diversity Center in Santa Cruz County, California, offered a “Documents Day” for locals to learn more about state and federal name and gender changes, Star decided to look into legally changing their name. But going to the Diversity Center that day wouldn’t just result in a name change for Star. It would turn them into an accidental trailblazer. On Documents Day, Star met Sara Kelly Keenan, a 55-year-old intersex activist who, four months earlier, had became the first Californian (and second-known American) with a court order declaring her gender as nonbinary. A match was lit. In Star, Keenan saw an opportunity to help younger generations achieve the same legal recognition she didn’t get until her fifties. Keenan walked Star through the paperwork, and then the Santa Cruz County court clerks walked Star and their family through more paperwork. Three months later, a blissful Star became the nation’s first known minor to be granted nonbinary status. Still, no state in America — and certainly not the federal government — formally recognizes any gender beyond male or female. Nonbinary is a relatively unknown term, and nonbinary Americans often struggle to be taken seriously. Their identities are questioned. They’re told that they’re either male or female; there’s nothing in the middle. That could change this year, as a bill supported by Keenan, Star, and more than a dozen other Californians who’ve been granted nonbinary status makes its way through the California state legislature. The proposed law would establish a third, nonbinary gender option on state-issued identity documents (driver’s licenses, ID cards, and birth certificates) for California’s 39 million residents. The whole state — not just a handful of its county courts — would recognize nonbinary citizens. And it would become easier for nonbinary people, bureaucratically, to obtain this recognition. It’s a fairly radical act — a state-sanctioned challenge of rigidly held beliefs about boys and girls and the space in between — and one expected to trickle down to other progressive states, and perhaps beyond…