One of the ongoing problems for transsexual people is being ‘outed’ when they show ID.
When one is transitioning there comes a point where a legal name change takes place. In Ontario this means filling out an application, having a guarantor / reference attest that they know you, signing the document and having it witnessed by a commissioner of oaths. Send it off along with the required fee and, all going well it goes through and you get your new birth certificate and a change of name certificate. Sounds wonderful until you dig a little bit deeper.
What happens when you try to have your sex changed? Now things get a wee bit more complicated. For one’s driver’s license a letter from your doctor stating that you are on hormones and living as the desired sex on the license is enough to get the license changed when you bring it along with change of name certificate and old driver’s license to the appropriate licensing location. For the health card I was told when I went to have the name changed that the sex should stay as “Male” to ensure that procedures I may need while I still have male genitals will be covered. The requirements to change the birth certificate are rather more intrusive. In a nutshell Section 36 of the Ontario Vital Statistics Act, RSO 1990 requires that:
Where the anatomical sex structure of a person is changed to a sex other than that which appears on the registration of birth, the person may apply to the Registrar General to have the designation of sex on the registration of birth changed so that the designation will be consistent with the results of the transsexual surgery.
What this means is that any time a person who is medically transitioning and has legally changed their name is required to present their birth certificate they have to out themselves as being transsexual. It also leads to some confusion if one has to present two pieces of identification. I present the driver’s license, it says female, present birth certificate, it says male. How to confuse a person in one easy step. It also leaves one open to potential harassment and discrimination.
Other provinces are even more stringent. New Brunswick requires that the driver’s license gender matches the birth certificate – which can only be changed after surgery. Saskatchewan also requires a “full transition” (see Transgender person seeks provincial ID change) which means full surgery. This has a negative impact on those who either do not desire to have SRS or are unable to undergo the surgery due to medical or other reasons – often financial.
The laws that dictate how one changes the gender marker on vital identification are overdue for an overhaul. For those in Canada I urge you to write to your MPP, MLA etc. and push for this change. Many provinces also do not protect transgender / transsexual rights in their human rights code, and the legislation federally to add protection to the federal human rights legislation died in the Senate with the dissolution of parliament and election this spring.
This doesn’t even begin to discuss the problem that those who are transgender and do not desire to transition face when they have to show identification when they are not presenting as the gender on their identification – something which also needs to be addressed.