World

Canadian Case Would Remove Gender From Birth Certificates

The Human Rights Tribunal of British Columbia is reviewing the case to remove identification of sex on birth certificates because critics say it is discriminatory for doctors to assign a baby’s sex “based on a quick inspection of the … genitals at birth,” National Post Canada reports.

Morgane Oger, chair of the Trans Alliance Society that is leading the charge on this movement, says that “birth certificates give false information about people and characterize them in a way that is actually wrong, … caus[ing] people actual harm.”

The system that is currently in place — in which doctors identify whether a baby is female or male based on their genitalia at birth — is a “crazy-making experience,” according to human rights attorney barbara findlay. (findlay spells her name in all lower-case.)

“Those children have nothing to work with except for something that feels profoundly wrong,” findlay says about everyone whose sex has been identified on their birth certificate.

The U.S. is currently pushing movements

As of 2014, Rhode Island will issue a new birth certificate with new sex identification without any proof of surgery. R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-3-21 (2005). But on the other hand in Kansas, the sex issued on a birth certificate can only be amended if it was improperly recorded — not after a sex change. K.S.A. § 65-2422c (2009). 

However, findlay insists that the only way to know one’s gender is to ask that person, and their response “trumps what is between their legs.”

Therefore, since a newborn infant may not be able to answer to which gender they identify with, it is “discriminatory to issue a birth certificate with that information on it.”

Morgane Oger is still hopeful for “a big administrative change” and the implementation of an entirely new model.

“Sex is not determined … in [somebody’s] physiology,” Oger says, “If you want to find [it] out, … you can ask them to have some sort of process to talk about who they are, but you don’t tell them to come up with a document based on a two-second inspection at birth.”

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