California is about to become the first state to legally recognize being nonbinary as a third gender option. Non-binary refers to neither male nor female.
Wonder who wears makeup and a dress, yet claims to be gender neutral? Well, that’s the case with Star Hagen-Esquerra, who sometime last year began thinking it was time for a legal name change.
Is Star trying to ignore science? Maybe she’s a liberal. At the age of 15 years, Star came out at age 15 to friends and family as nonbinary, identifying as neither a woman nor man and choosing to use the plural, nongendered pronouns.
At the age of 17, Star had a driver’s license with the wrong name on it. She even applied 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.
After the presidential election, Star decided to look into legally changing their name. This was 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.
On Documents Day, Star met Sara Kelly Keenan, a 55-year-old intersex activist who, four months earlier, had become the first with a court order declaring her gender as nonbinary. A match was lit. Keenan saw an opportunity in Star to help younger generations achieve the same legal recognition she didn’t get until her fifties.
After a period of three months, Star became the nation’s first known minor to be granted nonbinary status. There’s no state in America nor the federal government that 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.
This could change in due course after a bill that’s 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 bill would establish a third, nonbinary gender option on state-issued identity documents for California’s 39 million residents. The documents include driver’s licenses, ID cards, and birth certificates. The whole state would recognize nonbinary citizens. And it would become easier for nonbinary people, bureaucratically, to obtain this recognition.