Ottawa seems ready to go Swedish.
Passport Canada is mulling over changes that would allow Canadians to make their passports gender neutral, according to documents obtained by La Presse.
The gender identity Canadians list on their passports became a subject of interest after the ministry of transport introduced new rules effectively banning transsexual or transgender people from boarding airplanes in Canada.
“An air carrier shall not transport a passenger if the passenger does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents,” the regulations read.
Allowing Canadians to reject either “male” or “female,” it seems, would be a way around this issue.
Right now, the only way Canadians can change the gender listed on a passport or birth certificate is to undergo sexual reassignment surgery and submit proof to the government. That’s discriminatory, say trans activists, and it excludes a broad section of those who have changed their gender identity but do not wish to undergo surgery.
While the documents obtained by La Presse do not contain any details of the proposed changes — only that there may be some — Australia lets citizens list ‘X’ as their gender.
But not everyone is confident that the government will go ahead with the plan. NDP MP Dany Morin, the associate critic for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans issues, says he has “serious doubt that the Conservative government will actually go through with this.
“Australia is a leader on trans rights based on their non-discriminatory regulations, while Canada, under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, clearly is not. Adopting in Canada a genderless option would be the ideal solution to make sure that trans people are not discriminated against in Canadian airports,” Morin says.
Trans activists have counted a number of victories of late. Last month, Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal ruled that surgery does not need to be a prerequisite for changing one’s gender on one’s birth certificate. Quebec’s justice minister, Jean-Marc Fournier, confirmed May 9 that his province is looking at the same regulation.
Introducing government documents that withhold a person’s gender would put Canada in a select group — following only San Francisco and Australia. Both the state of California and the United Kingdom considered introducing such documents, but it was vetoed in California and has been lying on the order table in the UK. Sweden, on the other hand, recently went to the next level and created an entirely new gender-neutral pronoun: “hen.”
The Canadian government, it seems, has no plans to create any new pronouns.