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This couple didn’t want to assign a gender to their baby, but the government did it anyway

Lily Wakefield September 26, 2019
baby

(Stock image)

An LA couple who did not want to assign their baby a gender were told by the US government officials that “a baby is not a person without a gender”.

Jay Brissette, who is non-binary, and Miguel Ruelas, a trans man, wanted their baby Azul to be spared from gender stereotypes in the first years of life.

Brissette said that children exposed to expectations based on their gender from a young age. “I don’t want that for this person,” they told the Los Angeles Times in an interview.

They added that gender-creative parenting does not mean imposing a non-binary identity on Azul, but rather allowing their child to figure out their identity without having it decided for them by society.

Azul’s birth certificate has two dashes where gender is usually marked. In California, the State Senate legalised a third gender option on official documents like driver’s licenses and birth certificates in 2017.

However, when the couple enquired about how to register Azul for a social security number, as the application only had “male” and “female” gender options, they were told that their child was “not a person”.

Brissette said: “They went into this whole thing. That we had to pick a gender, that a baby is not a person without a gender.

“I don’t see how we can accept that the government told us who our baby is without giving us a satisfactory reason.”

Social security cards do not have gender markers, but the Social Security Administration (SSA) keeps track of them in its records.

Ruelas and Brissette decided to go to the downtown LA SSA office to resolve the issue.

The couple had the gender of their baby decided for them.

They filled out the paperwork, which the office accepted, leaving the gender blank. However when they were given Azul’s social security card it was marked as male.

When they questioned why it had been decided without their knowledge, Brissette said: “They told us Azul did have a gender and closed the window.”

Gillian Branstetter, a representative for the National Center for Transgender Equality, told the Los Angeles Times that the organisation was “working with this family to try to resolve this issue”.

Branstetter said: “The federal government should respect a family’s right to decide how their child is raised, how their child is viewed in the world, how their information is shared.”

More: baby, birth certificate, gender creative, gender neutral, Government, Parenting, stereotypes

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