[DIGEST: BBC, PBS, OregonLive, NY Daily News]

It’s a boy! Unless it’s a girl, right? That identifying detail is decided in our first minute of life. It’s recorded on a birth certificate and becomes the first thing anyone knows about us. But sometimes a visual inspection of one’s genitals leads to the wrong designation.  

That was the case for Kori Doty, a Canadian non-binary transgender person who identifies as neither male nor female, and prefers to use the pronoun they. "When I was born, doctors looked at my genitals and made assumptions about who I would be, and those assignments followed me and followed my identification throughout my life," Kori Doty said. "Those assumptions were incorrect, and I ended up having to do a lot of adjustments since then."

Doty is now the parent of Searyl Atli, an eight-month-old who arrived via homebirth and is the first person in Canada to be issued a health card with a genderless identification. Doty, who is advocating for a genderless birth certificate, has not made public what gender Searyl’s genitals most closely resemble, or whether prenatal testing provided information about the child’s chromosomes. However, Doty notes that these details wouldn’t provide answers about the baby’s gender anyway. Transgender people exhibit a wide variety of differences, ranging from hormonal causes to brain structure, which aren’t evident at birth. If babies aren’t assigned a gender before they can declare their own gender identity, Doty argues, they will be less hampered by society’s expectations.

The family's lawyer, barbara findlay, who spells her name without capital letters, said "The assignment of sex in this culture is done when a medical person lifts up the legs and looks at the baby's genitals. But we know that the baby's own gender identity will not develop for some years until after they're born."

That visual inspection leads to a wrong gender identification for a number of babies. Children who are born with Klinefelter’s syndrome — one in 1,000 births — may have male genitalia but female chromosomes, and could identify as either gender. People with androgen sensitivity disorder — one in 13,000 births — are genetically male but have female external physical sex characteristics. Transgender people — 1.4 million in the U.S. — will have the external characteristics of one gender, but identify as the other. Non-binary people — neither XX or XY chromosomes; one in every 1,666 births — don’t identify as either male or female. Sometimes a baby’s genitals are ambiguous, meaning they may have characteristics of both or neither gender. One or two of every 1,000 people have had surgery to “normalize” their genital appearance. So, for all of these reasons, Doty argues that a third gender identifier, “U,” for undetermined or unassigned, be an option. Some states permit transgender people to amend their gender on their birth certificates if their gender doesn’t match the original assignment. But in most places, a suitable option doesn’t exist for non-binary or third-gender people. That may be changing.

Oregonian Jamie Shupe received a non-binary birth certificate in 2016. “I was assigned male at birth due to biology,” said Shupe. “I’m stuck with that for life. My gender identity is definitely feminine. My gender identity has never been male, but I feel like I have to own up to my male biology. Being non-binary allows me to do that. I’m a mixture of both. I consider myself as a third sex.”

In June, Oregon state officials adopted a new rule that allows individuals to choose not just from “Male” or “Female” on identification cards, but “X” as well––for unspecified. The rule went into effect on July 3, making Oregon the first state in the U.S. to legally recognize non-binary, intersex and agender persons on ID cards.

In January, an intersex birth certificate was issued to 55-year-old Californian Sarah Kelly Keenan, who has Swyer syndrome, which is often marked by XY sex chromosomes and female external genitalia, in addition to undeveloped gonads.

Joshua M. Ferguson, an Ontario filmmaker, is fighting to change their birth certificate from male to non-binary — neither male nor female. Currently, Ontario offers gender-neutral options for drivers’ licenses and health cards but not for birth certificates. Making that change may be an uphill battle. In a recent poll, 58 percent of Canadians opposed adding a genderless birth certificate option.

However, as societies expand gender awareness to include transgender and non-binary people, physicians are calling for a ban on the practice of surgical sex assignment for babies born with ambiguous genitals, which would make that third gender or non-gender option necessary.  

“As much as 1.7% of the population is estimated to have intersex traits, while newborns’ genitals get medical attention in an estimated one in 2,000 births,” said Dr. I.W. Gregorio, who argues that instead of surgically choosing a gender for babies, doctors and families should wait until the child is old enough to make that decision for themselves.

“For decades, intersex people have suffered deeply harmful and medically unnecessary genital surgeries, performed in infancy and without their consent, despite the fact that these surgeries can almost always be delayed until the intersex individual can participate in the decision-making process.”

In other words, for these children, since gender isn’t apparent at birth, it doesn’t make sense to randomly choose, either via surgery or via a birth certificate designation. For these babies, a third option may be the best option.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Questions continue to be raised about the mental and physical health of President Donald Trump.

Slurred or rambling speech has been caught on camera at MAGA rallies and other presidential events.

Keep reading... Show less
Fox News

The House Judiciary Committee voted Friday morning to bring abuse of power and obstruction of Congress articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the House floor for a full vote.

The Democratic House is expected to vote in favor of the articles as well, officially impeaching Trump and putting him on trial in the Republican Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is already sparking concerns about the trial's fairness with comments he made Thursday night on far-Right Fox News host Sean Hannity's show.

Keep reading... Show less
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images // Win McNamee/Getty Images

South Bend Mayor and 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg got an awkward shoutout from President Donald Trump, who's nicknamed the candidate "Alfred E. Neuman" after the Mad Magazine character.

It happened at the President's recent rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Keep reading... Show less
Mark Wilson/Getty Images // DC Comics

"Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I'm an agent of chaos..."

Heath Ledger's Joker says this in 2008's The Dark Knight but it could also apply to the presidency of Donald Trump. From defying subpoenas, introducing sweeping policy changes to his own staff through tweets, fostering a revolving-door administration, abruptly deserting allies, and, of course, the ceaseless bullying.

The President and the Clown Prince of Crime have both been agents of some degree of chaos.

So it may not come as a surprise that the Joker joins the campaign of a Trump-like character in the latest issue of Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child.

Keep reading... Show less
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee is expected to vote in favor of articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Friday, teeing up a full House vote for next week.

The move comes after weeks of hearings with Republicans shouting in defense of the President and against the efforts to hold him accountable for soliciting foreign assistance in an election.

Keep reading... Show less
Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images; Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has some experience with impeachment. While her husband Bill was President, the Independent Counsel investigation led by Ken Starr probed every aspect of her life before and during her time in the White House as well as her husbands.

While Starr failed to find any criminal wrongdoing by the First Lady, he did after his four year investigation discover her husband's extramarital affair with a White House intern.

Keep reading... Show less