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“I hope that more people will feel empowered to challenge the norms, to see that our sexual anatomy is on a spectrum and that gender is really socially constructed.” — David Cameron Strachan
As reported by NBC News on Wednesday, February 15th, three more Californians –David Strachan, 69, Char Crawford, 32, and Xin Farrish, 34– received legal gender recognition as non-binary this week, raising the total number of non-binary Californians to seven!
We’re very excited about this, but first, in case you’re unfamiliar with the term non-binary, it refers to people whose gender identity isn’t “man” or “woman” but instead, both or neither. It’s also become an umbrella term to encompass all the different non-binary gender identities, such as “genderqueer” (the original Western term for this identity), “two-spirit” (from indigenous American culture), and “gender fluid”–which refers to people whose gender identity shifts over time, as long expressed by our E.D. and more recently by celebrities Ruby Rose, Miley Cyrus and Jaden Smith.
While intersex people have all gender identities, for those of us whose gender identities match our non-binary bodies, this legal gender recognition is a huge victory and an affirmation of who we are. Indeed, the very reason that the practice of “normalizing” intersex infant genital surgeries, aka Intersex Genital Mutilation (IGM) exists is because of the notion that all humans must be men or women, so having the government acknowledge that humans are indeed not all men or women is an enormous step towards ending interphobia (negative attitudes about intersex people and traits) and its human rights violating offshoot, IGM.
As an organization devoted to working in solidarity with our fellow LGBTQIA community members, we’ve very happy to see the solidarity and coalition at play in this week’s developments, where the non-binary gender recognition recipients are both intersex and non-intersex. We also note that while intersex people have often been left out of conversations about the non-binary community and non-binary gender identity, we’ve played a pioneering role in non-binary identity development and recognition.
For example, our founding E.D. Hida Viloria spoke about having a non-binary gender identity in 1999‘s groundbreaking documentary Gendernauts. Later, our associate director Dana Zzyym, with Lambda Legal’s representation, filed a groundbreaking federal lawsuit for non-binary gender recognition on their passport on Intersex Awareness Day (Oct. 26th) 2015. As stated in last November’s victorious ruling in the lawsuit, the court found “no evidence that the Department followed a rational decision-making process in deciding to implement its binary-only gender passport policy.” Similarly, Sara Kelly Keenan, who became the second non-binary U.S. citizen last September (the first, in June, was Jamie Shupe of Oregon), and the first non-binary Californian, is intersex.
David Cameron Strachan, one of this week’s recipients, is also intersex,and has been recognized for his long-term activism. Strachan was the spearheading force behind the first government hearing on intersex human rights in history (in San Francisco in 2004, at which our E.D. provided testimony), and subsequent report on intersex human rights by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.
To date, nine Americans have had their non-binary gender legally recognized (in addition to Shupe, Keenan, Zzyym, and the three non-binary folks this week, there are three more Californians: Cameron Wu, Rain Emery Chamberlain, and A.T. Fury), and we congratulate them all for bravely standing up to be recognized as who they are! We note that access to non-binary gender recognition is one of intersex human rights advocates’ demands, and we encourage non-binary people, allies and others not to forget that intersex people can be non-binary too, and to include us in your conversations and advocacy work. :)
#intersex #non-binary #genderqueer #genderrecognition #LGBTI #LGBT