Halifax Media Co-op

News from Nova Scotia's Grassroots

More independent news:
Do you want free independent news delivered weekly? sign up now
Can you support independent journalists with $5? donate today!
Advertisement
Paid for by Halifax Media Co-op members. Join them today and support cooperative journalism.

Designating sex on government IDs

Trans individuals unable to change gender markers without surgery

by Kendra Lovegrove

Jessica Durling, a first year student from the University of King's College, has created a petition to make it easier for Nova Scotians to change gender markers on their birth certificates. (Photo: Kendra Lovegrove)
Jessica Durling, a first year student from the University of King's College, has created a petition to make it easier for Nova Scotians to change gender markers on their birth certificates. (Photo: Kendra Lovegrove)

HALIFAX/K'JIPUKTUK – Transgender Nova Scotians are facing greater amounts of discrimination because of sex designation on their driver’s license and birth certificates, says Jessica Durling, a first year journalism student at the University of King's College.

When someone’s sex designation on their birth certificate doesn’t reflect who they actually are, it can open doorways to all kinds of discrimination, Durling says.

Durling started a petition less than a year ago to make it easier for transgender Nova Scotians to change their sex designation on their birth certificates.

Any transgender individual who wishes to change their sex designation on their birth certificate must first undergo at least one gender confirming surgery, also known as sex reassignment surgery, states the Vital Statistics Act of Nova Scotia.

The act states that any individual who wishes to change their sex on their birth certificate or license (or other official document) must bring two affidavits, each written by a qualified medical practitioner. These affidavits must indicate that the “anatomical sex of the person has changed.”

Tracy Barron, media relations advisor for the government of Nova Scotia, says that they do not ask for specifics, but leave it up to doctors to decide what constitutes a change of anatomical sex.

Transgender advocates disagree with Nova Scotia’s policy on changing sex designation.

“It really doesn’t make sense at all,” says Kate Shewan, vice-chair at the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project (NSRAP). “There are a lot of trans people, who, for a variety of reasons, either may not want the surgery or may not be able to have surgery. […] And you know those people may live for years and years and years in their identified gender, but with these rules, they’re still not able to change their identification documents.”

Gilanders Ungar, a transgender man living in Halifax, says the only discrimination he has faced involves somebody seeing his ID. Ungar says he worries about discrimination most when he goes to a doctor’s office or bar – the two places where his gender marker outs him.

Durling hopes that a more flexible policy to change sex designation will make it safer for transgender individuals. “Who else is going to see what’s in your pants other than your intimate partner? Why is this a predominate government thing?” Durling asks.

Laura Shepherd, outreach and administrative Coordinator of Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group (NSPIRG), says that a gender or sex marker is an archaic way of confirming identity.

“On the one hand if [we] are to include trans folks, we need a broader set of categories than male and female, and it should be self determined. On the other hand, why does anyone need a gender marker?” she asks.

Shewan says it isn’t until you start dealing with these issues that you realize how often you use your ID. Anytime you’re travelling, renting or even applying for library card, a photo ID is required.

“It is really problematic for trans people if you know that photo ID has a gender marker on it that is different then how you identify and how you present,” Shewan says.

Even travelling can leave transgender individuals at a loss. Identity Screening Regulations within Canada state that “an air carrier shall not transport a passenger if the passenger does not appear to be of the gender on the identification that he or she presents.”

Durling says her petition has already gathered roughly 400 to 500 signatures, but she won’t look to see how many more are needed until they reach 1,000.

 

The petition asks the following requirements be honoured instead of the current ones: 

* A practicing physician or psychologist signs and says they believe you have assumed (or have always had) the gender identity that accords with the change in sex designation on your birth certificate, and that you intend to maintain that identity;

*All previously issued birth certificates and certified copies of your birth registration;

*A statutory Declaration by a person for a change of sex designation on a birth registration;

*An application for change of sex designation on a birth registration;

*and that the applicant is either born in the province of Nova Scotia, OR has resided in the province of Nova Scotia for at least one year immediately before the change of sex designation application.  


Socialize:
Paid for by Media Co-op members.
Join them today!
708 words

Comments

Can you provide a link to the

Can you provide a link to the petition?

Advertisement

User login


Google+
Subscribe to the Dominion $25/year

The Media Co-op's flagship publication features in-depth reporting, original art, and the best grassroots news from across Canada and beyond. Sign up now!