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What should I do about ID, birth registrations and other legal documents?

Some families who are not assigning gender to their children also decide to fight the requirement to assign gender or sex on legal documents. This conversation is generally specific to families who are raising a newborn from birth and likely does not cover considerations for adoptive families.

Before making this choice, it’s a good idea to do some research and think through what it would mean to challenge gender/sex markers on legal documents. A good starting place is to call the agency that you file birth records with and see what options they have.

Ask questions like

  • “what will you do if that question is left blank?”

  • “what if we write unknown?”

  • “What are the choices for babies born intersex?”

This will give an idea as to whether or not it is possible for your family. Many people have been surprised to find that their state had options for them beyond assigning sex or gender. Note that in the United States, it is not an option to have gender/sex left unmarked for passports or social security cards even if State documents do not list sex/gender. Most parents get around this by providing a letter from a provider stating, “This child was not assigned a gender at birth, but their genital arrangement is most closely [male/female].” Currently civil rights lawsuits could change this policy.

Next, families can consider additional questions.

  1. Does this feel important to me?

  2. Do I feel safe and supported?

  3. Will my medical providers or birth attendants support this decision?

  4. Do I have energy and resources to press if I hit road bumps? How much and how far?

The answers will not be the same for every family. Race, class, gender, immigration status, and other markers of privilege or oppression could influence a family’s sense of safety making these choices. Answers may also change with circumstances, such as if birth plans change or a birthing parent experiences perinatal depression. A family may want to consult with an attorney prior to making these choices, though many families do not.

Making the choice to challenge gender assignment on legal documents is not a good fit for everyone. Many families comply with form requirements and still raise their children without assigning gender. This choice does not have to be all or nothing. Some families only fill out forms affiliated with government functions such as identification or assistance programs, while leaving forms for school, leisure activities, or medical offices blank.


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