Following what could be the world’s first gender-free health card, issued to the child of a parent in British Columbia, a Toronto couple speaks out in support of dropping sex designation from identity cards altogether.
Ashley McGhee and Barb Besharat know firsthand the struggle of raising a gender-neutral child in a binary world.
They say their toddler, Ollie, isn’t a “he” or “she” — McGhee and Besharat prefer to use the pronouns “them” and “they,” and make an effort to keep language, clothing and activities free from gender bias.
McGhee and Besharat also think government records should steer clear of assigning sex because of the assumed gender that goes along with it.
“One’s gender identity has no correlation with their anatomy,” said McGhee. “So when we’re asking for someone to tell us their sex that was assigned at birth, they’re really just indicating what they have between their legs structurally.
“That’s really not telling us anything about how they live in the world and who they perceive themselves to be.”
The couple see the common conflation of sex designation with gender identity as one that may pose problems for a child.
The survey found that 57 per cent of respondents were opposed to the addition of a third, non-binary option on official documents.
In the B.C. case, parent Kori Dody, who identifies as gender-neutral, requested a non-binary health card for their child, Searyl Atli.
Alti’s health card now has a “U” in the field that usually identifies someone as being male or female. The “U” presumably stands for “unassigned” or “undetermined.”?
While others fight on the policy front, Besharat and McGhee have mostly focused on raising their toddler.
The couple say they hunt for clothes with neutral colour palettes and messages, and they’re careful with the language they use to address Ollie.
The couple ask friends, family and even service providers to use neutral pronouns, but say they aren’t militant about it if somebody genders Ollie mistakenly.
McGhee describes the couple’s parenting style as “gender-expansive,” and argues that it’s within the rights of any parent to be more or less gender-expansive as they see fit, at least until the child is old enough to determine their own identity.
When people find themselves in an identity conflict, “their daily life is impacted,” McGhee said. “They have higher rates of depression, thoughts of suicidality, they become isolated.
“That’s not how we hope for folks to thrive in the world.”