Current Affairs

Netherlands allows person to identify as non-binary for the first time

Josh Jackman May 28, 2018
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People hold hands during the Hand in Hand for Diversity, a demonstration against anti-LGBT violence triggered after a gay couple was beaten up, on April 8, 2017 in Arnhem. / AFP PHOTO / ANP / Piroschka van de Wouw / Netherlands OUT (Photo credit should read PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW/AFP/Getty Images)

PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW/AFP/Getty

A Dutch court has ruled that a person will be legally recognised as non-binary, in a groundbreaking move.

The anonymous plaintiff will now be given a new birth certificate which indicates that they have “no determined sex.”

The recipient of the decision, who was born in 1961, was originally registered as male by their parents because it was “easier for the child,” according to Dutch News.

A woman holds a placard reading "Don't use my love to justify your hate #solidarity" during the Hand in Hand for Diversity,  a demonstration against anti-LGBT violence triggered after a gay couple was beaten up, on April 8, 2017 in Arnhem. / AFP PHOTO / ANP / Piroschka van de Wouw / Netherlands OUT        (Photo credit should read PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW/AFP/Getty Images)
(PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW/AFP/Getty)

They changed their legal gender to female in 2001, but were forced to go to court when they realised that they did not identify as either binary gender.

It has been possible since 1993 to write on a birth certificate that a child’s gender can not be determined, but this possibility has not existed for people past the point of their birth.

The ruling – which was handed down on Monday by a family court in Limburg, in the south of the country – may not contain the best phrasing in terms of the way the plaintiff must officially display their gender, but it is still a landmark moment in the struggle for non-binary equality.

Members of the COC (Dutch organization for LGBT's) attend the annual canal parade in Amsterdam, on August 2, 2014. The parade is part of the Gay Pride Week. AFP PHOTO/ANP BAS CZERWINSKI netherlands out        (Photo credit should read BAS CZERWINSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
(BAS CZERWINSKI/AFP/Getty)

It means that a change in national legislation is now on the cards, and shows how far the country has come in the 11 years since the Supreme Court of the Netherlands ruled against a plaintiff who brought a similar case.

The court in Limburg was told that the Netherlands had changed, both socially and legislatively, pointing for example to the nationwide increase in gender-neutral toilets and the fact that Dutch train service ‎Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) now addresses its customers as “passengers” instead of “ladies and gentlemen.”

A non-binary person being forced to define themselves as male or female conflicted with their right to self-determination, autonomy and a private life, the court added.

Homosexual and lesbian community members dressed as nuns participate in a Rainbow Pride Walk in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on August 1, 2013. Hundreds of LGBT activists particpated in the rally to demand equal social and human rights for their community. The parade is part of Gay Pride Week. AFP PHOTO / ANP / MARCEL ANTONISSE   ***Netherlands out***        (Photo credit should read MARCEL ANTONISSE/AFP/Getty Images)
(MARCEL ANTONISSE/AFP/Getty)

And it stated that a person should be able to legally self-identify their gender.

Last week, a court judgment meant that from now on, the government of Saskatchewan in Canada will allow birth certificates without a gender marker.

Canada also made its anthem gender-neutral earlier this year.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander (C) poses during a visit to COC Netherlands, an interest group for LGBT men and women, during a celebration for its 70th anniversary in Amsterdam, on November 22, 2016. / AFP / ANP / Robin van Lonkhuijsen / Netherlands OUT        (Photo credit should read ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Dutch King Willem-Alexander (C) poses during a visit to COC Netherlands, an interest group for LGBT people (ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP/Getty)

In 2017, a Canadian baby became the first in the country to be officially identified as not having a gender.

Searyl Atli Doty – Sea for short – got their national health card with a “U” entered in the sex category, months into a legal battle that their parent is still fighting. 

Kori Doty, a trans non-binary parent, appealed against the Vital Statistics Agency’s decision to refuse Sea a birth certificate.

Kori Doty facebook
(Kori Doty/Facebook)

Because Sea was born outside of the medical system, there was no official genital inspection at the birth in British Columbia.

“I do not gender my child,” Doty said.

“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.”

Related topics: court, Europe, Europe, gender, Holland, Law, Netherlands, non-binary, The Netherlands, Trans, Transgender

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