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Remove gender from birth docs: group

By Stefania Seccia

Morgane Oger, Trans Alliance Society chair.
(Stefania Seccia, 24 hours)

Morgane Oger, Trans Alliance Society chair. (Stefania Seccia, 24 hours)

Nine intersex and transgender people, including the Trans Alliance Society, have filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to remove gender from birth certificates.

Morgane Oger, society chair and a trans woman, said by removing the gender markers off birth certificates, intersex, trans, and gender nonconforming residents will no longer be born into discrimination.

“We’re trying to get it so that if you want to find out somebody’s gender, you ask them and you can ask them to declare it,” she said.

“You can ask them to have some sort of process to talk about who they are, but you don’t tell them to come up with a document based on a two-second inspection at birth.”

Oger said the tribunal has agreed to review the complaint and is hopeful it goes somewhere, but knows they’re asking for a big administrative change.

“In a way, it’s the cornerstone in an arch and if you take that stone away, the whole model falls down and a different model’s needed,” she said.

“Your sex is not determined or reflected in your physiology 100% of the time.”

Up until 2013, the only way to change a gender marker on a B.C. birth certificate was by providing a doctor’s note that someone had undergone gender-affirming surgery, also known as sexual reassignment surgery, Oger said.

Harriette Cunningham, 11 at the time, complained to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal that it was discriminatory against her.

The Vital Statistics Act was amended to make it easier to change gender on the document.

“That was a tipping point,” Oger said. “However, having a male or female gender marker on a birth certificate is actually not all there is to this problem.

“It’s not widely known that actually a significant population inside of the transgender, and as well as intersex, population don’t identify fully as male or female.”

Cunningham, the Trans Alliance Society and the others are being represented by Vancouver human rights lawyer barbara findlay.

“Back in the day, when I got my driver’s licence, it had my name and address and my F – that was it,” findlay said. “These days they’ve got facial recognition software, fingerprints, so the utility of a gender marker on a birth certificate is zero.”

The requirement to change gender is unattainable for many trans people in poor communities, according to findlay.

“We’re not saying you can’t ask about gender,” she said. “That’s the relevant word: ask.”

Poll

Should gender be removed from birth certificates?

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