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George Diepenbrock
KU News Service

Canadian health card without baby's sex designation could reshape struggle for transgender rights, policy researcher says

Thu, 07/13/2017

LAWRENCE — Canadian officials have issued a health document to a newborn baby that did not specify the baby's sex, according to national news reports.

Transgender advocates claim it is possibly the first time this has happened in the world. Searyl Atli Doty was born in British Columbia, "outside the medical system," and the baby's parent wants to avoid assigning gender to the child. Canadian authorities have not yet issued a birth certificate.

A University of Kansas researcher who has studied transgender policy issues and politics is available to discuss what the issuing of the health card means for the transgender movement.

Don Haider-Markel, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science, is co-editor of the book "Transgender Rights and Politics: Groups, Issue Framing & Policy Adoption." C-SPAN's Book TV in a 2015 segment featured the research. His research and teaching are focused on the representation of interests in the policy process and the dynamics among public opinion, political behavior and public policy. He also co-authored a recent study on difficulties facing transgender political candidates.

"This move is a radical rethinking of the problems facing transgender people and nongender binary people. It has the potential to reshape the struggle for transgender rights because it removes the necessity of having to change government documents for those that have transitioned," Haider-Markel said. "And for the many people that do not desire, or cannot afford a surgical transition, having no gender marker on documents would mean that they have no pressure to transition. That said, I don’t expect that a policy shift such as this would occur overnight."

In most parts of the United States, a person must undergo a medically supervised transition before government documents, such as a birth certificate, can be changed to reflect a different gender, he said.

To arrange an interview with Haider-Markel, contact George Diepenbrock at 785-864-8853 or gdiepenbrock@ku.edu.

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