Vancouverite files human rights complaint over denied 'X' gender designation on ID
A Vancouver filmmaker and writer who does not identify as male or female has filed a human rights complaint against the province after it rejected their application for a non-binary designation on their government-issued ID.
“There are diverse identities in the trans community and the B.C. government needs to accommodate the human rights of trans people. That’s their job and that isn’t happening,” Joshua M. Ferguson told CTV News at the BC Human Rights Tribunal Thursday.
“It’s really unacceptable that we, non-binary people, have to wait to be legally recognized. I think justice delayed is justice denied.”
In August, Ferguson applied to have the gender marker on their BC Health Card and driver's licence changed to "X.”
Ferguson identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns "they" instead of "he" or "she." Their ID, however, currently says "M" for male.
The following month, Ferguson learned that the B.C. government had denied their request.
“I think it’s dangerous when a government participates in a form of discrimination in relation to gender because it sends a message to society and permits transphobic behaviour,” Ferguson said.
Under current rules, British Columbians can apply to change their sex designation, but can only choose between "M" or "F.”
“It’s discriminatory for non-binary people because we don’t identify as male or female,” they said.
The process involves declaring they intend to "maintain the gender identity that corresponds with the desired sex designation” and requires a statement from a doctor or psychologist.
As part of their human rights complaint, Ferguson wants the province to end “the arbitrary and discriminatory practice” of limiting gender designations to male or female and to issue a public statement explaining the steps to obtaining an “X” designation.
“Providing identification with a correct gender marker is a basic service that should be available to everyone in British Columbia,” Ferguson’s lawyer, Frances Mahon, said in the statement. “Without it, trans, non-binary and intersex individuals are exposed to further discrimination every time they show their ID.”
Ferguson is the first Canadian to have an “X” gender observation on their passport, according to federal officials.
That request was approved on Aug. 24, the day new federal regulations came into effect allowing those who don’t identify as male or female to apply for an “X” gender observation on documents issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
They are also the first person to publicly apply for a non-binary birth certificate in Ontario. In June, Ferguson received a letter from the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services stating that the request was denied.
The ministry however, said a review of the province's policy for gender designation options on birth certificates is underway while the application is in "pending" status.
In August, Ferguson also filed a human rights application in connection with that process.
Ontario did implement “X” as a gender option on driver’s licences in 2016.
More information on 'X' gender observation
Canada has joined several other countries including Australia, Denmark, Malta and Germany by allowing the "X" gender observation.
Those who use the third option are advised to check the embassy, high commission or consulate of any countries they plan to visit before booking travel.
Sex fields are mandatory on all travel documents under the International Civil Aviation Organization, but the group permits governments to allow a third, unspecified category.
Those looking to change their sex to "X" can download the request forms and get more information online.