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Baby With Genderless Health Card May Be the First in the World

Photograph by Twenty20

Since Kori Doty gave birth to Searyl Atli in November, Doty has continued to fight to keep the infant's gender and sex off all official records. Last month, the Canadian parent was able to get a health card from British Columbia that did not designate a sex. But Doty says the province is still refusing to issue Searyl a genderless birth certificate.

"When I was born, doctors looked at my genitals and made assumptions about who I would be, and those assignments followed me and followed my identification throughout my life. Those assumptions were incorrect, and I ended up having to do a lot of adjustments since then," Doty, who is non-binary trans, doesn't identify as either male or female and prefers to use the pronoun "they," told CBC.

Doty thinks children have the right to freely express their identity. For instance, a gender fluid person may not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, or an intersex individual may be born with atypical genitalia. Having a sex or gender assigned at birth limits that right and also puts them in a difficult and stressful position to change government documents later in life.

"I'm raising Searyl in such a way that until they have the sense of self and command of vocabulary to tell me who they are, I'm recognizing them as a baby and trying to give them all the love and support to be the most whole person that they can be outside of the restrictions that come with the boy box and the girl box," Doty said.

To parents like Doty, inspecting a baby at birth is not an accurate assessment of their gender and sex.

"We tell our children, 'You can be anything you want to be.' We say, 'A girl can be a doctor, a boy can be a nurse,' but why in the first place must this person be a boy and that person be a girl? Your infant is an infant. ... As a newborn, your child's potential is limitless," writes Christin Scarlett Milloy for Slate.

Because Doty gave birth outside the medical system at a friend's house, they bypassed the genital medical inspection doctors use to assign a child's sex. The health card was issued with a "U" in the space for "sex," which could be for "undetermined" or "unassigned," in order for Searyl to access medical services.

While the health card is an important step for Doty and their baby, the parent is fighting for more. Lawyer barbara findlay, who writes her name without capital letters, is working with Doty, a member of the Gender-Free ID Coalition, to fight the rejection of a genderless birth certificate for Searyl. Doty has applied for judicial review of the decision and will argue that "requiring a gender marker" violates the baby's rights "as a Canadian citizen to life, liberty and security of the person."

Opponents may argue that these designations on official documents are vital statistics, but findlay says the coalition isn't trying to forgo collecting those statistics. Instead they want them to be collected anonymously and to not link them to a person's identity.

Searyl may be the first baby in the world to have an official identification card without a gender designation. In December, New York City was the first in the U.S. to issue a birth certificate reading "intersex," a term that varies person to person, to 55-year-old Sara Kelly Keenan, who was born with male genes, female genitalia and has a mixed internal reproductive anatomy.

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