Vancouver resident denied 'X' gender designation on ID
Published Thursday, September 28, 2017 6:12PM PDT
A Vancouver filmmaker and writer who does not identify as male or female has learned the province denied an application for an "X" gender designation, nearly a month after the observation was granted on their Canadian passport.
Joshua M. Ferguson, who identifies as non-binary trans and uses the pronouns "they" and "them," was denied a request to use "X" instead of "M" or "F" on their health card and driver's licence.
The "X" designation is permitted by some provinces, and Ferguson is believed to be the first to have an "X" observation on their Canadian passport.
Ferguson hadn't heard back from the province, so they contacted Health Insurance BC.
"(They) basically said that the application has been denied and that they cannot put an 'X' marker on care cards in B.C.," Ferguson told CTV News on Thursday.
"In a way it's a characterization of what can happen, in a very dangerous way, when discrimination is enabled on the level of government."
According to Ferguson, the department initially said the request was denied because there was information missing. The detail Ferguson believes was missing was a checkmark in the boxes marked "male" or "female."
They said they'd opted not to check either box, but wrote in "non-binary," as did their physician.
"That's troubling, because what the government is essentially telling me is that my gender identity doesn't exist."
The decision to deny an "X" designation on provincial ID is particularly frustrating for some given the mixed messages from different levels of government. Ferguson said they hoped the provincial results would be different under John Horgan's leadership.
"I'm shocked that this new government has really failed me and I think failed other non-binary people in our province," they said.
"B.C. is now behind when it comes to recognizing non-binary people and the NDP ran on their commitment to the trans community and trans human rights."
Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a statement that the province is still in the process of looking at policy changes in other jurisdictions, like Ontario and Newfoundland. Officials are also looking to the federal government for guidance, a branch of government still working out the details of how exactly it will implement the "X" designation.
"The government recognizes the challenges that transgender and gender-diverse people face across B.C.," Dix said.
A statement from Ferguson's lawyer said that ensuring non-binary persons have the correct gender designations on B.C. ID is a basic step the government must take to comply with the province's Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"The failure to do so denies non-binary persons their human dignity and demands a remedy," Frances Mahon said.