A Canadian parent is fighting to prevent official records from declaring their child’s gender.
Kori Doty, who identifies as a non-binary trans person, has successfully lobbied the province of British Columbia to keep official documents from labeling the infant as “male” or “female,” but says that the fight isn’t over.
Doty, who prefers to use the pronoun “they,” is a parent to a child named Searyl Atli.
“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,” Doty said, “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.”
The provincial government issued Searyl a birth certificate with the letter “U” in place of the typical “M” or “F” designation, indicating that the baby’s gender is unknown. However, Doty insists that the birth certificate shouldn’t name any gender at all.
Doty is a member of the Gender-Free ID Coalition, an organization that fights legislation it sees as discriminatory.
The coalition’s stated goal is to “remove all gender/sex designations from identity documents.”
“Everybody’s gendered identification starts with a birth certificate,” the organization’s website reads. “The state ascribes a sex/gender marker at birth, and then ‘certifies’ that gender. But no one knows a baby’s gender at birth since gender identity takes years to be known.”
“So the state is predictably wrong for trans people, whether they identify as the ‘other’ M/F gender or whether they are non-binary. And it may be wrong for intersex people. The state knows it is certifying as true something it cannot know to be true. Trans and intersex people bear the burden of gendered ID that doesn’t match their gender.”
Doty insists that the decision to declare a gender should be left to the individual—in this case, Searyl.
“It is up to Searyl to decide how they identify when they are old enough to develop their own gender identity,” Doty said in the statement. “I am not going to foreclose their choices based on an arbitrary assignment of gender at birth based on an inspection of their genitals.”
Transgender individuals are estimated to comprise 0.3 percent of the adult population in the United States, according to a page published by Harvard University. Several studies have shown that the brains of transgender people are more likely to structurally align with the gender they identify with, rather than the genders they were assigned at birth. Intersex individuals typically do not associate their gender identity with a single gender; in some cases, they feel that their gender changes over time.
The provinces of Ontario and Alberta are currently considering offering a non-binary gender category on official forms, according to The Telegraph. Several countries are also working on developing passports with non-binary gender classifications, including Canada, Pakistan, Australia, and Nepal.
For Doty, the issue is personal, and they don’t believe that gender should be determined in any official capacity.
“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,” Doty said.