Keith Farnish just wanted his child to receive the same level of respect every other kid does when opening their first bank account; an already arduous process that shouldn't be riddled with complicated obstacles placed by outdated policies. But when Kaelin, his non-binary 17 year old, attempted to do just that, the two were unable to find a single bank near their home in the Scottish Borders able to set up a bank account online without labeling somebody as a man or woman.
"When you're filling something in and you don't identify as male or female and you only see those two boxes then you don't see yourself there," Farnish told Buzzfeed News. "You are absent. That must hurt, and that's what makes me angry. There's no reason for it. It doesn't need to be like this."
Garnish said he filed a formal complaint after one bank told him they would respond to him within two weeks, but he never heard back. The bank informed him that, because it would require money to fix its lack of inclusion in the bank account opening process, it would not be resolving the matter for him. After Farnish's failed attempts, his child was forced to take matters into their own hands.
Kaelin called another bank called First Direct to see if they would be able to set up a bank account without categorizing someone's gender without any luck.
"The person I spoke to was like, 'We could look into it.' And I said, 'Well, what's the position now?' [And they replied,] 'We can't do that at the moment, but if you want you could do something over the phone where you have to put male or female initially and then afterwards we can take it off. But you can't do it online."
It's not the first time Kaelin has had to face this same inability for society to exist without labels before. While applying to attend college through their country's University and Colleges Admissions service, they were forced to identify as male in order to go forward with the process.
"It's not life and death, but, actually, embracing your identity and being comfortable in that identity? In many cases it is," Farnish told Buzzfeed News.
h/t: Buzzfeed News