Searyl Atli Doty is making history at 8-months-old. The baby is believed to be the first in the world to be issued an official identification card without a specified gender. British Columbia Medical Services Plan (MSP) issued the health card. British Columbia’s MSP is Canada’s national health plan.
Instead of “M” for male or “F” for female, Searyl’s sex is listed as, “U,” which many believe to mean “unassigned,” “unspecified” or “unknown.” Kori Doty is the parent of Searyl and made the decision to keep the baby’s gender off of all government records until Searyl is “old enough to develop their own gender identity,” according to USA Today.
Doty’s statement was issued by the Gender Free I.D. Coalition, a group that advocates for genderless government documents in Canada.
Doty identifies as a non-binary and transgender parent and doesn’t identify as either male or female, (and prefers to use the pronoun “they”). Doty wants to keep Searyl’s gender off all official records.
Kori Doty has been trying to get British Columbia to issue Searyl a birth certificate without a gender marker since the child was born last November.
Their parent, Kori Doty, believes doctors should not have the right to choose a baby's gender assignment at birth https://t.co/Q7Hj5u0pwR
— BuzzFeedOz News (@BuzzFeedOzNews) July 4, 2017
Kori Doty gave birth to Searyl Atli in the home of a friend at the end of 2016. Kori’s child needs a birth certificate in order to be issued a medical card in Canada.
Kori Doty was unable to receive a genderless birth certificate for Searyl Doty even as a member of the Gender-Free I.D. Coalition.
The baby was born in British Columbia but “outside of the medical system,” so there was no genital inspection following their birth, according to a statement by the Gender Free I.D. Coalition.
“I do not gender my child. It is up to Searyl to decide how they identify, when they are old enough to develop their own gender identity. I am not going to foreclose their choices based on an arbitrary assignment of gender at birth based on an inspection of their genitals.”
Kori promptly applied for judicial review of the decision and argued that any indication of gender on the baby’s birth certificate violates the baby’s rights to “liberty and security of the person, to freedom of expression, and to equality under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”
— Charmaine de Silva (@char_des) June 30, 2017
If one feels different from the gender they were assigned at birth, changing government documents later on in life can usually be a difficult process, Doty said. Kori argued that omitting any form of gender identification on government documents would reduce that stress.
“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’s lawyer, barbara findlay (who styles her name without capitalization), told CBC News that governments often argue that gender on birth certificates is necessary for their vital statistics. Statistics can be collected anonymously instead, findlay added.
Kori Doty, who prefers the pronouns “they or them,” explained their decision to opt out of assigning their baby’s gender.
“Certainly, our culture is obsessed with (whether a baby is) a boy or a girl, but the government doesn’t have any business certifying that information when they don’t know it to be true.”
Kori Doty is going to court against the Vital Statistics Agency for its refusal to issue a birth certificate for the child.
Doty is one of eight transgender and intersex complainants in a case currently in front of the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal.
The complaints insist the removal of gender markers on all new birth certificates, as well as allowing anyone with a preexisting birth certificate the ability to obtain a genderless one.
“The physiology of humans and the way that that then translates to gender identity and the experience of gender is much more complicated than the binary of man and woman, boys and girls, male and female.”
News outlets USA Today and NBC Out failed to obtain a response from Canada’s Ministry of Health and the British Columbia Medical Services Plan.
[Featured Image by Ashley Stroud/Shutterstock]