"Non-binary" Baby Struggles to Obtain Birth Certificate

“There are only two genders.”

Twenty or even ten years ago, the above statement would not have been considered remarkable in the slightest way. Today, however, publicly expressing this idea has become increasingly controversial. 

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Kori Doty, parent of the world's first legally recognized non-binary baby.

Earlier this month, Kori Doty gave birth to Searyl, possibly the world’s first legally recognized genderless baby. A health card issued by the British Columbia Medical Service Plan, Canada’s national health care service, has the child’s sex listed as “U,” presumably standing for “unspecified” or “unknown.” 

Doty gave birth to Searyl at a friend’s house in British Columbia this past November. Because the baby was born outside the medical system, a birth certificate was unable to be immediately issued, and a birth certificate is needed before a citizen can be issued a health card. While Doty is still struggling with the courts to obtain a birth certificate for Searyl, Canada’s Medical Services Plan decided to send the baby a health card in April, thanks in part to the group, Gender Free I.D. Coalition, who is supporting Doty in a lawsuit aiming to halt the practice of listing a gender on birth certificates.

Doty, who identifies as genderless and non-binary, and is also a member of the Gender Free I.D. Coalition, put out a statement in which she declares she will not “foreclose” the child’s choices by assigning a gender. She also states she believes her rights as a Canadian citizen are being violated by the government refusing to issue a birth certificate recognizing Searyl as nonbinary. 

This charge may have some legal standing. With the passing of Bill C-16 in June, Canada added gender identity and expression to the list of groups protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Critics call it tyrannical and Orwellian, as it leaves room for people who refuse to recognize gender identities to be charged with hate crimes. An amendment stating that nothing in the act would require, “the use of a particular word or expression that corresponds to the gender identity or expression of any person,” was proposed, but later rejected. 

While it remains to be seen as to whether or not the Canadian government will issue Searyl a non-binary birth certificate, 58% of Canadian citizens admit to being uncomfortable or opposed to the idea.