Do babies have to be registered as a specific sex?

The parent said they are raising the baby to be able to tell the world who they are as they get older. (Photo: iStock)
The parent said they are raising the baby to be able to tell the world who they are as they get older. (Photo: iStock)

The door may have been opened for parents in Canada to register their children as neither male nor female but as “gender unknown.” A baby born in British Columbia has been issued a provincial health card that is gender non-specific – supposedly this is a first in the world and a foray into a new age of gender issues.

Apparently, the parent, who claims to be non-binary transgender, wants the infant to follow in the family footsteps and to discover their gender on their own. And “their” is the pronoun being used as a singular when referring to the child – not “he” or “she.” The child’s parent is one of eight others to bring a case before B.C.’s Human Rights Tribunal for the right to change their own birth certificates.

It’s all about “U”

The British Columbia health card carried by the child has a “U” marked in the space reserved for ‘sex.’ The “U” could stand for undetermined or unassigned. The parent is now fighting on the child’s behalf to have gender done away with on birth certificates as well. As of now, a child must be known either as male or female on a birth certificate registered in Canadian provinces. The child’s parent also wants the baby’s gender removed from all other official records in Canada. The parent said when asked if the child is a boy or a girl, they respond with, “I don’t know, I am getting to know them more.”

Raising a genderless child

The baby’s parent said they are raising the baby to be able to tell the world who they are as they get older – as they develop a sense of self and a command of vocabulary. Until that time, the parent is identifying the child simply as a baby. The parent said the baby is loved and supported and being encouraged to be the most whole person they can be without the restrictions the parent believes are imposed by gender.

The parent believes those who reassign their genders at some point in their lives may have been spared much anguish if their sex would not have been specified at birth. The child was apparently born outside the medical system and did not have a genital inspection at birth.

While B.C. is the first province to issue a non-gender-specific card of any sort, Ontario and Alberta are giving serious consideration to a third non-binary category on certain documents. Meanwhile, Canada along with Pakistan, Australia and Nepal are apparently designing passports with a new gender classification. The bottom line, however, is that as of now, babies in Canada must be registered as either male or female on their provincial birth certificates.

Different rules for adults

All provinces and territories with the exception of Nunavut have procedures in place for changing sex designations when a person has had gender reassignment surgery. In 2012, Ontario became the first province to drop the surgery requirement when someone wished to change gender designation on a birth certificate. The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruled the requirement as discriminatory. Laws on this matter vary in each province and territory.
Find a Lawyer