An eight-month-old Canadian baby is believed to be the world’s first to receive a health document without a specified gender.
Searyl Atli Doty, who was born in November 2016, has been issued a health card with a “U” listed rather than “male” or “female” in the place of “sex,” according to a June 30 press release from Canada’s Gender Free I.D. Coalition. The “U” was believed to stand for “undetermined” or “unassigned.”
Searyl’s parent, Kori Doty, identifies as non-binary transgender and, as such, wanted to avoid assigning a gender to their child, according to CBC News. The baby was born in British Columbia but “outside of the medical system,” according to the Gender Free I.D. Coalition’s release, so there was no genital inspection following their birth.
“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, who prefers the pronoun “they,” told CBC. “Those assumptions were incorrect, and I ended up having to do a lot of adjustments since then.”
Doty’s lawyer called the decision to issue Searyl’s health card without a specified gender a “huge step forward,” telling Canada’s Global News, “The assignment of sex in this culture is done when a medical person lifts up the legs and looks at the baby’s genitals. But we know that the baby’s own gender identity will not develop for some years until after they’re born.”
By identifying Searyl as “U” on the health document, Doty is leaving it up to the child “to decide how they identify, when they are old enough to develop their own gender identity.” They remain hopeful that Searyl’s birth certificate, which has not yet been issued, will also be printed without gender identification.
Some Canadian provinces, including Ontario and Alberta, are reviewing their policies to include a third, non-binary gender option on health documents like birth certificates, but British Columbia requires a male or female designation, according to the CBC.
The news comes days after Oregon became the first U.S. state to offer a third gender option on state-issued identification documents. The state Transportation Commission’s new rule, which took effect Monday, allows residents to selection “X” for “not specified” as their gender on state IDs, driver’s licenses and driver permits.
Don’t miss the latest in LGBTQ news by subscribing to the Queer Voices newsletter.