‘I don’t want my child to attempt suicide because I assigned them the wrong gender’
The parent who secured the first ever genderless official identification for their baby has opened up about their groundbreaking achievement.
Eight-month-old Searyl Atli Doty – Sea for short – got their national health card with a “U” entered in the sex category after Kori Doty refused to provide a gender.
Doty, a 31-year-old trans non-binary parent who gave birth to Sea at a friend’s house, is now appealing against the Vital Statistics Agency’s decision to refuse Sea a birth certificate.
Because Sea was born outside of the medical system, there was no official genital inspection at the birth in British Columbia.
Doty is arguing that the denial by the authority, which registers all births, marriages, deaths and name changes, is a violation of Sea’s right to equal treatment and freedom of expression.
Last month, gender expression and identity were added as protected grounds in the Canadian Human Rights Act and criminal code.
Doty has attracted vitriol for their actions.
“I know that I’m being discussed in men’s rights activist forums,” they told the Guardian.
“I know that there are articles written about me and the way that my parenting practices are tantamount to abuse.”
Many have said that Sea would have problems in later life if there is no gender on their documents – which, ironically, is exactly what Doty is trying to avoid.
“I don’t want to put them in a box where they only get to wear pink and ruffles or they only get to wear blue and trucks,” they said.
“I’m just trying to leave that space open, so that when they can say who they are, that they don’t have to say ‘your guess was wrong.’”
And the abuse is a pale shadow of the consequences which Doty said could come from their child growing up fighting a gender assignment which doesn’t match their identity.
Pointing to polls which show that as many as 40 percent of transgender people in the US have attempted suicide, Doty said: “I want to raise my kid in such a way that whatever their gender is, it doesn’t have to give them angst.”
Getting a “U” – which Doty assumes stands for undetermined or unassigned – was an important victory, but it’s not the end goal.
“I think really this is about recognising a structure, or a system, that is violating everyone,” they said.
“The binary gender system causes problems for everyone, including people that find ways to fit and conform in it. It is a disservice to all.”
They said that replacing the gender binary with a spectrum would not only benefit trans, non-binary and intersex people, but also “every boy who is cut off from their emotional wellbeing and told to suck it up and not cry and enculturated into toxic masculinity.
“It also serves every girl who is told she shouldn’t want to make things or be good at math or be strong.”
The parent said what they were aiming for in the long run was “essentially a large-scale systemic change.
“Not just in the way that offices that issue documents function, but also in the way that our culture understands who we are, to ourselves and to each other.
“That kind of change, it isn’t a one-step game.”