Vancouverite applies for 'X' gender designation on government ID
A Vancouver resident is applying to have the gender marker on their BC Health Card and driver's licence changed to "X" to reflect their non-binary identity.
"It's really important for me to get this done," Dr. Joshua M. Ferguson told CTV News.
The Vancouver filmmaker identifies as non-binary, meaning they do not identify as exclusively male or female.
Ferguson's ID, however, currently says "M" for male.
"Currently, ID discriminates against non-binary people who do not identify as men or women," Ferguson said. "The 'X' is the short form of non-binary and it's sort of internationally recognized under multiple ruling bodies."
British Columbia's Ministry of Health says it is looking at steps taken by other governments before deciding how to proceed locally.
"The government recognizes the challenges that transgender and gender-diverse people face across B.C.," the province said in an email statement to CTV News. "We are in the process of examining policy changes made in other jurisdictions, including Ontario, around non-binary identification on government issued documents."
Currently, B.C. residents can apply to change their sex designation in a process that involves declaring they intend to "maintain the gender identity that corresponds with the desired sex designation."
The process also requires a statement from a doctor or psychologist. Minors need the permission of all parents or guardians.
However, the policy only allows residents to choose "M" or "F," and does not offer a third option for those who don't identify as either.
In 2016, the province’s former Liberal government tabled a bill to add "gender identity or expression" to the B.C. Human Rights Code.
Critics, however, say the government is allowing discrimination against non-binary people to continue by not acting faster.
“It's a sad day when human rights are 'in process' and not realized," said Cheri DiNovo, a NDP member of Ontario’s provincial parliament. "Either non-binary and Trans folks have equal rights now or they don't. How long does it take to create a form?"
MP Niki Ashton, a member of the federal NDP, also expressed her support for Ferguson on Twitter.
"Proud to support folks like (Joshua M. Ferguson) and their fight for justice," Ashton wrote.
This isn't the first time this year the issue of gender identity on government-issued ID has made headlines in B.C.
In July, a baby born in the Slocan Valley was issued what is thought to be the first-ever health card without a gender marker.
Searyl Atli Doty was born in November at a private residence, which means there was no medical genital inspection when the baby was born.
In place of M or F, the province designated the baby's sex as "U," presumably for "Unknown" or "Unspecified." It is thought to be the first in the world with an unspecified sex.
Ferguson, however, said the request to change their gender designation to an "X" is different.
"The trans community is diverse. We're not all the same. We're not all the same people," they said.
Ferguson has also requested a non-binary Ontario birth certificate, but application is still pending, four months after they submitted it.
"Ontario's going through a policy review. It's been a very difficult experience," Ferguson said.
That province now allows "X" as an option on driver's licences, but not on birth certificates.
Ferguson hopes their story will raise awareness about non-binary people and the way they are represented.
"I'm hopeful because it's the right thing to do," they said.
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Maria Weisgarber and Kendra Mangione
My application for change of gender to X on my BC health care & driver's license has now been submitted! Time for non-binary recognition. pic.twitter.com/NyQN4RaokI— Joshua M. Ferguson (@joshuamferguson) August 16, 2017