SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A growing group of Californians identifies as non-binary, and now they’re pushing a bill that would place a third gender option on state documents.
California would be the first in the country with a third gender option on the books.
Sara Kelly Keenan made international headlines last year when New York City issued her the first ever birth certificate with an “intersex” classification in the gender field, instead of male or female.
“My body looks quite different from other women,” says Keenan, who uses “she” as a pronoun.
Keenan says she was born intersex- having male genes, with female genitalia and mixed internal reproductive organs. Keenan kept her story secret for most of her life, but now that she’s legally recognized, she wants to help others who feel they’re neither man nor woman, but “non binary.”
Carly Mitchell is non binary. Mitchell and Keenan are banding together at the state Capitol, calling on lawmakers to pass a law allowing a third, non binary option on IDs including birth certificates and driver’s licenses.
The legislation would be the first of its kind in the nation.
“Having this license protects me from job discrimination, from imprisonment in many cases,” says Mitchell
Their attorney says there are more than a dozen court orders in California for a non-binary gender option, but the California Department of Motor Vehicles won’t issue licenses until the law is on the books.
“We’ve met with the Department of Motor Vehicles who is very supportive of providing this non-binary option,” says Attorney Toby Adams.
Opponents worry people aren’t educated enough on the topic.
“I don’t think people realize the implications on letting people pick what sex they are,” says Greg Burt.
Greg Burt is with the California Family Council. The Christian group claims government documents need to reflect biological facts.
“If you change sex to be a description of someone’s feelings, then anyone can claim to be a male or female,” says Burt.
But for those who believe they fall somewhere in between, a third gender option would help them feel less invisible.
“Society doesn’t understand that we exist,” says Keenan.
Activists say the next step after getting this bill passed is to work with the federal government to receive the non binary option on passports and birth certificates.