Searyl Atli, an 8-month old Canadian child who is biologically female, is the first child in the world to have his or her gender marked as “unknown” on official documents.
The baby, born in the Canadian province of British Columbia, will have a “U” (for “undetermined” or “unassigned”) in place of an “M” or an “F” on their social services card, according to the Canadian state news service.
Searyl’s birth certificate, though, still identifies them as female.
If the thought of a gender-neutral baby seems strange, well, in this case, the non-binary apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: Searyl’s “parent” (not mother, nor father), Kori Doty, also refuses to be defined by any single gender, and does not identify as either male or female.
Doty says that they will raise the baby genderless, at least until the baby has a “sense of self and command of vocabulary to tell me who they are,” at which point Searyl can select one of the 37 available genders to identify with, or none at all.
“I’m recognising them as a baby and trying to give them all the love and support to be the most whole person that they can be outside of the restrictions that come with the boy box and the girl box,” Doty told the CBC.
For Doty, the need to raise their child genderless stems from their own upbringing, where their parents took one look at their genitals and assumed their gender based solely on Doty’s physical attributes. That, Doty says, scarred them for life, and they simply cannot envision the same torturous fate for poor Searyl.
Doty also advocates for “gender neutral” options on official documents for full grown adults. So far, though, Canada has been reticent to add a “U” or an “X” as a way of marking someone as non-gender binary on things like birth certificates and drivers’ licenses. In the US, only a handful of jurisdictions – in Oregon, California and Washington, DC – provide a “U” or an “X” option for people who just can’t shoehorn themselves into the gender binary.
As for Searyl – they’re still a baby, so for now, they’re probably not too bothered by the lack of gender assignment. It may be a totally different thing once Searyl hits puberty.