Ella Webber Talks Trans-Non-Binary Rights with the CCLA

This series of 12 video clips documents a conversation between CCLA volunteer Amara McLaughlin-Harris and Ella Webber. At the top of each video you can see the key questions the clip will discuss.

Amara introduces it as follows:

Ella Webber is an old friend of mine. We grew up a street away from one another on Toronto Island and I was a regular fixture in their family home. 

Growing up with Ella taught me many things. Among them, was the fact that the binary, “girl or boy” system of gender is more simplistic than the living human reality. Knowing Ella has also given me an understanding of the confusion, fascination, and violence directed at those who don’t fit into the binary system.

This interview was meant to give Ella a chance to speak candidly and publicly on the subject of gender identity and discrimination. Many thanks to Ella for their willingness to share their time, experiences, and insights.

Glossary

Transmasc-non-binary: This term is a hybrid of the term “transmasculine”, which describes someone who was assigned female at birth and identifies with masculinity and the term “non-binary,” which indicates someone who does not identify exclusively as masculine or feminine.

Passing privilege: The benefit of being able to “pass” as cisgendered.

POC: Person of colour, or non-white person.

Videos can be viewed below, or can be watched on CCLA’s Youtube Playlist here.

Video 1: 

What are some views of gender you’ve encountered and how do they relate to your own?

Video 2: 

In what ways has your gender been perceived by yourself and others over time? How would you describe the evolution of your gender over time?

Video 3: 

What does discrimination mean to you and how does it relate to the idea of equality?

Video 4: 

Can you recall early experiences of discrimination, judgement, or lack of experience on the basis of your gender and comment on how these have affected you?

Video 5: 

Since you have openly identified as trans and non-binary, how frequently and in what contexts do you feel you experience discrimination or conflict related to your gender? Any stories that you wish to tell?

Video 6: 

How do these experiences of discrimination that you’ve described affect you in terms of decisions you make, your sense of possibility, confidence, safety or otherwise?

Video 7: 

Are there environments where you can count on being treated respectfully and as equal? Where you can safely and comfortably be at ease with yourself and others?

Are there places you avoid or would never go because you fear or anticipate ill-treatment on the basis of gender?

Video 8: 

How does gender affect your interactions with new people in social contexts or otherwise?

Video 9: 

Why do you prefer the pronoun “they” and how significant is it to be called by your preferred pronoun? How do people commonly react or respond to using gender neutral pronouns and how would you reply to them?

Video 10: 

What about identification, bathrooms, or any other areas of Canadian life that tend to operate according to binary understandings of gender? How do you navigate these situations and how do they make you feel?

Video 11: 

What changes do you hope to see in the way gender is understood, particularly with respect to trans and non-binary people? How would your life be different in a gender-equal society?

Video 12:

What would you want to say to someone who is unfamiliar with or confused  by trans or non-binary identifying people or someone who can’t figure out your gender by looking at you? Do you have some tips for how this person might engage with or respond to you that would feel respectful?

 

Discrimination against Gender Non-conforming Individuals: Academic Sources and Debates

Because the Learn section of TalkRights features content produced by CCLA volunteers and interviews with experts in their own words, opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent the CCLA’s own policies or positions. For official publications, key reports, position papers, legal documentation, and up-to-date news about the CCLA’s work check out the In Focus section of our website.

 

Durable solutions for discrimination may come with education, and the continued search for knowledge and understanding. As Florence Ashley underscores in her recent paper in the University of Toronto Law Journal, despite lawmakers’ best intentions, laws are no magic bullets. They are constrained by sets of principles that create inherent limits for them. Discriminations against gender non-conforming individuals, very often, differ from the paradigmatic cases of overt and intentional infliction of differential treatment that one tends to envisage. Often, they are very subtle and effected through contextualized actions that one might personally not consider as having discriminatory effects.

This article shares scientific data on topics related to discriminations faced by gender non-conforming individuals. Our hope is these can fuel reflection and give a greater understanding of the issues faced by gender non-conforming individuals. Here, we provide a multiplicity of scientific sources, as part of a guided reflection moving through several issues affecting gender non-conforming individuals. This allows us to illustrate emerging ideas about gender identity, the multiplicity of problems that it brings to the forefront as well as consider proposed methods of support. It also allows us to stress the importance of further research to deepen our understanding of gender identity and ultimately, how to legislate around these issues.

A first area that should interest us is the number of gender non-conforming people in the general population. Having various measures to determine how gender identity is expressed on the oft-referred gender spectrum provides useful insight into how neatly gender can be characterized and ultimately how institutional paradigms should be changed. It is important to note here, that “gender non-conforming” and “transgender” are not synonymous. A transgender person is someone who identifies as the sex opposite the one they were assigned at birth. Someone who is “gender non-conforming” is simply someone who identifies as not falling neatly within the traditional binary gender categories that are “man” and “woman”. Taking this difference into account, it is interesting to note that, according to the Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles, while the transgender population is currently estimated at 0.58 percent of the population in the United States, the percentage of the population who identifies to some degree of gender non-conforming is much higher – as high as 27% among teenagers. The Williams Institute states that there is a likelihood that the number of people identifying as gender non-conforming will likely increase as the subject becomes less taboo and more people start using the label. This would explain why more young people identify as gender non-conforming. This data has limitations, however. This number is based on a self-categorization of respondents in different categories ranging from “very feminine” to “very masculine”. This gives us an idea of how many people depart from to various extents from standards of gender expression, which is different from gender identity, which is the intrinsic sense that one is a man, a woman, both, or neither. Hence this data does not indicate how many people live with gender dysphoria and might therefore be transgender.

  1. Esther Meerwijk and Jae M Sevelius, “Transgender Population Size in the United States: a Meta-Regression of Population-Based Probability Samples” (2017) 107:2 Am J Public Health e1, online: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5227946/>.
  2. Bianca DM Wilson et al, Characteristics and Mental Health of Gender Nonconforming Adolescents in California: Findings from the 2015-2016 California Interview Survey, (Los Angeles: The Williams Institute and UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, 2017).
  3. MB Deutsch, “Making It Count: Improving Estimates of the Size of Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Populations” (2016) 3:3 LGBT Health 181 online: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27135657>.
  4. Christina Richards et al, “Non-binary or genderqueer genders” (2016) 28:1 Int Rev Psychiatry 95, online: <https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.3109/09540261.2015.1106446?needAccess=true>.
  5. Chassitty N Fiani and Heather J Han, “Navigating identity: Experiences of binary and non-binary transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) adults” (2018) Int J Transgenderism, online: <https://www-tandfonline-com/doi/full/10.1080/15532739.2018.1426074>.
  6. Andrew R Flores et al, “How Many Adults Identify as Transgender in the United States?” (Los Angeles: The Williams Institute, 2016), online: <http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/How-Many-Adults-Identify-as-Transgender-in-the-United-States.pdf>.

Discrimination against gender non-conforming people has been documented in various fields, notably, in employment, healthcare, or education. As stated above, the problem with studying discrimination within various social arenas is that discrimination, rather than being overt, is often camouflaged through innocuous acts. There would be high value if more research were done in these areas, allowing for action to be taken at a grassroots level.

  1. Daphna Stroumsa, “The State of Transgender Health Care: Policy, Law, and Medical Frameworks” (2014) 104:3 Am J Public Health e31, online: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3953767/>.
  2. Albert Joseph et al, “Gender identity and the management of the transgender patient: a guide for non-specialists” (2017) 110:4 J R Soc Med 144, online: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28382847>.
  3. Gilbert Gonzales and Carrie Henning-Smith, “Barriers to Care Among Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Adults” (2017) 95:4 Milbank Q 726, online: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29226450>.
  4. G Nicole Rider et al.,“Health and Care Utilization of Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Youth: A Population-Based Study” (2018) 141:3 Pediatrics 1 <http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/early/2018/02/01/peds.2017-1683.full.pdf>.
  5. Jaclyn M White Hughto, Sari L Reisner and John E Pachankis, “Transgender Stigma and Health: A Critical Review of Stigma Determinants, Mechanisms, and Interventions” (2015) 147 Soc Sci Med 222, online: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4689648/>.
  6. Anne Boland, “God of the hinge: treating LGBTQIA patients” (2017) 62:5 J Analytical Psychology 688.
  7. Skylar Davidson and Jamie Halsall, “Gender inequality: Nonbinary transgender people in the workplace” (2016) 2:1 Cogent Soc Sci, online: <https://www-tandfonline-com/doi/full/10.1080/23311886.2016.1236511>.

 

There has been much debate in academia in recent years, first, about the role of “unconscious” or “implicit” bias in the treatment of certain marginalized groups by state institutions and their agents. Originally used to attempt determining the existence of racial bias in the treatment of African-Americans by the criminal justice system, the implicit-association test has been used more recently to consider the existence of gender bias and accessorily, bias towards gender non-conforming. Many academics have criticized this method as too imprecise and possibly dangerous, since it is akin “attempting to read into a person’s mind”. With the standard in criminal trials being that of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, much skepticism has been expressed with regards to the test’s capacity to prove the existence of an accused’s guilty mind. Moreover, in these cases, due process naturally limits the usefulness of these tests. While, they might show the existence of bias in a person, this does not mean the alleged bias was the main impetus behind an action. However, in civil cases, notably, discrimination cases, where the burden of proof is on a balance of probabilities (meaning that the plaintiff’s case must be more probable than improbable), the test could be used as one element out of many to bolster one’s case. The Courts have already had to tackle the question of bias from a presiding judge. Nevertheless, Implicit Association tests, to our knowledge, have never been used to rule on a case as of yet in Canada.

  1. Kelly Capatosto et al., State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review (Columbus: Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, 2017).
  2. John T Jost et al., “The existence of implicit bias is beyond reasonable doubt: A refutation of ideological and methodological objections and executive summary of ten studies that no manager should ignore” (2009) 29 R Organ Behav 39, online: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191308509000239>.
  3. Brian A Nosek, Carlee Beth Hawkins and Rebecca S Frazier, “Implicit social cognition: from measures to mechanisms” (2011) 15:4 Trends Cogn Sci 152, online: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364661311000167>.
  4. FL Oswald et al., “Predicting Ethnic and Racial Discrimination: A Meta-Analysis of IAT Criterion Studies” (2013) 105 J Personality & Soc Psych 171.
  5. Gregory Mitchell & Philip E. Tetlock, “Antidiscrimination Law and the Perils of Mindreading” (2006) 67 Ohio State LJ 1023.
  6. Miguel C Brendl, Arthur B Marksman & Claude Messmer, How Do Indirect Measures of Evaluation Work? Evaluating the Inference of Prejudice in the Implicit Association Test, (2001) 81 J Personality & Soc Psych 760.

 

Finally, support for transgender people is vital. Suicide attempts and very high levels of social anxiety are known to be prevalent among gender non-conforming individuals. Support from one’s family and entourage can therefore be of great help. However, change on the societal level seems to be required. Many studies have been conducted on the subject. Nevertheless, more research can be done into the specific factors that lead to the diminution. Additionally, although so-called gender affirmation therapies, including reassignment surgeries and hormonal treatments are generally associated with mental health benefits and diminution of dysphoria, suicide rates for transgender individuals remain very high, which indicates that other factors have a major effect on their overall well-being. More research needs to be done to identify these factors.

  1. Cecilia Dhejne et al, “Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden” (2011) 6:2 PLoS One 1, online:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5841333/.
  2. Riittakerttu Kaltiala-Heino et al, “Gender dysphoria in adolescence: current perspectives” (2018) 9 Adolesc Health med Ther 31, online: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5841333/>.
  3. Caitlin Wolford-Clevenger et al, “Suicide Risk Among Transgender People: A Prevalent Problem in Critical Need of Empirical and Theoretical Research” (2017) 4:3 Violence Gend 69, online: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5649411/>.
  4. Calvin Louis Gilbert, “Expanding Hearts and Minds: The Impact of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Educational Interventions on Nurse Practitioner Students’ Knowledge and Comfort” (2016) College of Nursing and Health sciences Master Project Publications, Paper 5, online: <https://scholarworks.uvm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1004&context=cnhsmp>.
  5. Virginia P Quinn et al, “Cohort profile: Study of Transition, Outcomes and Gender (STRONG) to assess health status of transgender people” (2017) 7:12 BMJ Open, online: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5770907/>.
  6. Stephanie L Brennan, “Relationship among gender-related stress, resilience factors, and mental health in a Midwestern U.S. transgender and gender-nonconforming population” (2017) 18:4 Int J Transgenderism 433, online: <https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15532739.2017.1365034>.
  7. AA Owen-Smith et al, “Association Between Gender Confirmation Treatments and Perceived Gender Congruence, Body Image Satisfaction, and Mental Health in a Cohort of Transgender Individuals” (2018) J Sex Med 591, online: <http://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(18)30058-4/fulltext>.
  8. Tiffany R Glynn et al. “The role of gender affirmation in psychological well-being among transgender women” (2016) 3:3 Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity 336, online: <http://psycnet.apa.org/buy/2016-21290-001>.
  9. Megan C Stanton, Samira Ali and Sambuddha Chaudhuri, “Individual, social and community-level predictors of wellbeing in a US sample of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals” (2017) 19:1 Cult Health Sex 32.
  10. Ashley Austin and Revital Goodman, “The Impact of Social Connectedness and Internalized Transphobic Stigma on Self-Esteem Among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults” (2017) 64:6 J Homosexuality 825, online: <https://www-tandfonline-com/doi/full/10.1080/00918369.2016.1236587>.
  11. Amaya Perez-Brumer et al, “Individual- and Structural-Level Risk Factors for Suicide Attempts Among Transgender Adults” (2015) 41:3 Behav Med 164.
  12. Arnold H Grossman, Anthony R D’augelli and John A Frank, “Aspects of Psychological Resilience among Transgender Youth” (2011) 8 J LGBT Youth 103.
  13. Jacob C Warren, K Bryant Smalley and K Nikki Barefoot, “Psychological well-being among transgender and genderqueer individuals” (2016) 17:3-4 Int J Transgenderism 114.
  14. Stephanie L Budge, H Kinton Rossman and Kimberly AS Howard, “Coping and Psychological Distress Among Genderqueer Individuals: The Moderating Effect of Social Support” (2014) 8:1 J LGBT Issues Counseling 95.
  15. Nessa Millet, Julia Longworth and Jon Arcelus,“Prevalence of anxiety symptoms and disorders in the transgender population: A systematic review of the literature” 18:1 Int J Transgenderism 27, online < https://www-tandfonline-com/doi/full/10.1080/15532739.2016.1258353?src=recsys>.
  16. Jake Pyne ““Parenting Is Not a Job … It’s a Relationship”: Recognition and Relational Knowledge Among Parents of Gender Non-conforming Children” (2016) 27:1 J Progressive Human Services 21, online: < https://www-tandfonline-com/doi/full/10.1080/10428232.2016.1108139>.
  17. Ruari-Santiago McBride and Dirk Schubotz, “Living a fairy tale: the educational experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming youth in Northern Ireland” (2017) 23:3 Child Care in Practice 292.
  18. Jacqueline Ullman, “Teacher positivity towards gender diversity: exploring relationships and school outcomes for transgender and gender-diverse students” (2017) 17:3 Sex Ed 276.
  19. Emily A Greytak, Joseph G Kosciw and Madelyn J Boesen, “Putting the “T” in “Resource”: The Benefits of LGBT-Related School Resources for Transgender Youth” (2013) 10:1-2 J LGBT Youth 45, online: < https://www-tandfonline-com/doi/full/10.1080/19361653.2012.718522?src=recsys>.
  20. Rhonda J Factor and Esther D Rothblum, “A Study of Transgender Adults and Their Non-Transgender Siblings on Demographic Characteristics, Social Support, and Experiences of Violence” (2008) 3:3 J LGBT Health Res 11, online: <https://www-tandfonline-com/doi/full/10.1080/15574090802092879>.
  21. Kristie L Seelman, “Recommendations of transgender students, staff, and faculty in the USA for improving college campuses” (2013) 26:6 Gender & Education 618, online < https://www-tandfonline-com/doi/full/10.1080/09540253.2014.935300>.
  22. Tiffany K Chang and Y Barry Chung, “Transgender Microaggressions: Complexity of the Heterogeneity of Transgender Identities” (2015) 9:3 J of LGBT Issues in Counseling 217, online: < https://www-tandfonline-com/doi/full/10.1080/15538605.2015.1068146>.
  23. Brett Genny Beemyn, “Making Campuses More Inclusive of Transgender Students” (2005) 3:1 J of Gay & Lesbian Issues in Education 77, online: <https://www-tandfonline-com/doi/abs/10.1300/J367v03n01_08>.
  24. Patrick R Miller et al, “Transgender politics as body politics: effects of disgust sensitivity and authoritarianism on transgender rights attitudes” (2017) 5:1 Politics, Groups, and Identities 4, online: < https://www-tandfonline-com/doi/full/10.1080/21565503.2016.1260482>.
  25. Heidi M Levitt and Maria R Ippolito, “Being Transgender: The Experience of Transgender Identity Development” (2014) 61:12 Journal of Homosexuality 1727, online: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25089681>.
  26. CM Wiepjes et al, “The Amsterdam Cohort of Gender Dysphoria Study (1972-2015): Trends in Prevalence, Treatment, and Regrets” (2016) 15:4 J Sex Med 582, online: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29463477>.
  27. Linda W Wesp and Madeline B Deutsch, “Hormonal and Surgical Treatment Options for Transgender Women and Transfeminine Spectrum Persons” (2017) 40:1 Psychiatric Clinics of North America 99, online: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0193953X16300727?via%3Dihub>.

To conclude, advances in our understanding of gender identity are forcing a reconceptualization of what it means to be a man or a woman. While these paradigms are not likely to disappear in the near future, they are certainly being mitigated and diluted as gender non-conformity becomes more prevalent and recognized. Laws and institutions that for centuries have acknowledged man and woman as the essential biological duality in humans need to be changed accordingly. The door  to further dialogue on these questions should be open, to encourage self-education and understanding of the various complex ideas and concepts at issue. Hopefully, the sources provided here as well as other analyses on the TalkRights blog can hope further this discussion.

Gender-Based Discrimination at a Glance – A View from…

Because the Learn section of TalkRights features content produced by CCLA volunteers and interviews with experts in their own words, opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent the CCLA’s own policies or positions. For official publications, key reports, position papers, legal documentation, and up-to-date news about the CCLA’s work check out the In Focus section of our website.

 

In recent years, the LGBT+ population has made tremendous civil liberties strides in Canada and elsewhere. In the West, particularly, they are more acknowledged than ever before and their realities are now at the forefront of policymaking. Entrenching LGBT+ perspectives in law naturally pushes for a paradigm shift. Singular experiences of the community not previously recognized need to be appreciated by legislators who then may enact new legislation or amend current laws.

These new perspectives should interest us, first, because they are often tied to experiences of discrimination and vilification, which should be prevented and chastised. Most importantly, however, they should be engaged because they fundamentally challenge our assumptions regarding human identity and sexuality and, by extension, the entire body of laws and institutions premised on these ideas.

Below is a compilation of various news sources from across Canada highlighting contemporary challenges and realities faced by transgender and gender non-conforming people on a day-to-day basis, as well as various legislative moves pursued at different levels of government in Canada. The last section of this piece focuses on Bill-16 (also known as An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code), which has been particularly controversial in Canada.

On Transgender Issues Generally

 

  1. https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/01/25/is-your-gender-really-necessary-on-a-passport.html
  2. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/federal-prisons-csc-transgender-inmates-1.3909504
  3. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/medicine-hat-judges-ordered-4-year-old-not-to-wear-girls-clothes-in-public-1.3816829
  4. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/transgender-statistics-canada-census-information-data-1.3752975
  5. https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/analysis/protecting-transgender-rights-long-overdue-425446893.html
  6. https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/analysis/time-for-gender-neutral-birth-certificates-436887123.html
  7. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/prison-transgender-inmates-policy-1.3932466
  8. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/reassignment-surgery-not-necessary-change-id-nl-1.3533318
  9. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/changing-gender-markers-on-id-can-be-a-challenge-1.3538433
  10. http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/federal-government-quietly-eases-requirements-for-canadians-seeking-to-change-gender-on-citizen-certificate
  11. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/gender-neutral-bathrooms-university-of-saskatchewan-1.3346134
  12. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/saskatchewan-transgender-birth-certificates-1.4197130
  13. https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/06/25/judge-rules-for-openness-in-custody-case-involving-conflict-over-sons-gender-identity.html
  14. https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/06/25/judge-rules-for-openness-in-custody-case-involving-conflict-over-sons-gender-identity.html
  15. https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/05/04/parents-of-transgender-youth-join-push-to-outlaw-discrimination.html
  16. https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/05/30/trans-rights-are-womens-rights.html
  17. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/passport-transgender-c16-1.4099066
  18. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/eggen-catholic-sex-education-curriculum-1.4368378
  19. http://www.journalpioneer.com/opinion/letter-to-the-editor/keep-gender-ideology-out-of-pei-schools-67808/
  20. https://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2017/06/19/ads-challenge-thoughts-about-transgender-torontonians.html
  21. https://www.cambridgetimes.ca/sports-story/7509501-cambridge-minor-hockey-goes-extra-mile-with-inclusiveness-training/
  22. https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/gender-neutral-passport-option-to-end-scary-situations-441799683.html
  23. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/transgender-rights-bill-senate-1.4163823
  24. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/sturgeon-high-school-washrooms-gender-neutral-alberta-1.4406077
  25. https://www.straight.com/life/652381/vancouver-school-boards-lgbtq-policy-sparks-debate
  26. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity-battle-grips-bcschools/article36681034/
  27. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/leadership-lab/preventing-and-ending-discrimination-and-harassment-of-transgender-employees/article36456796/
  28. http://www.metronews.ca/news/vancouver/2017/10/26/b-c-non-binary-rights-case-launched.html
  29. http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/being-transgender-in-the-canadian-military/

 

On Violence Against Trans People

 

  1. http://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/advocacy-groups-killings-of-transgender-people-increase
  2. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/federal-prisons-csc-transgender-inmates-1.3909504
  3. http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/indigenous-transgender-woman-day-of-remembrance-1.4411235
  4. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/transgender-prison-policy-trudeau-1.4075500
  5. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/11/19/transgender-canadians-violence-transgender-day-of-remembrance_a_23282367/
  6. https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/05/30/trans-rights-are-womens-rights.html

 

Legislation

 

  1. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/gender-bill-passage-historic-event-for-alberta-transgender-woman-says-1.3354856
  2. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/trans-protocol-council-1.4014315
  3. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/passport-transgender-c16-1.4099066
  4. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/gender-confirming-surgeries-1.3614766
  5. https://www.telegraphjournal.com/times-transcript/story/49641046/law-would-allow-new?source=story-related
  6. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/guidelines-released-for-mandatory-lgbtq-policies-in-alberta-schools-1.3402154
  7. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-transgender-rights-minor-youths-1.3609154
  8. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/b-c-human-rights-code-trans-rights-1.3687613
  9. http://torontosun.com/2016/11/13/human-rights-commissioner-weighs-in-on-ze-and-hir/wcm/0254ab55-ade7-40f4-b1f3-553b75b10842
  10. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/b-c-ndp-to-reinstate-human-rights-commission-after-15-years-1.4236078
  11. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/yukon-moves-to-protect-transgender-rights-ban-gender-based-discrimination/article34307376/

 

Testimony

 

  1. http://www.theguardian.pe.ca/news/local/pei-person-wants-to-be-referred-to-as-neither-he-nor-she-but-they-103004/
  2. http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/indigenous-transgender-woman-day-of-remembrance-1.4411235
  3. http://www.trurodaily.com/living/transgender-a-lifelong-journey-151820/
  4. https://www.telegraphjournal.com/times-transcript/story/49641046/law-would-allow-new?source=story-related
  5. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/its-2017-and-we-still-need-to-say-it-trans-rights-are-human-rights/article34981938/
  6. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/sheesha-yadil/being-transgender-toronto_b_17221690.html

 

Statistics

 

  1. https://egale.ca/backgrounder-lgbtq-youth-suicide/

 

Bill C-16 (An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code)

  1. http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/transgender-bill-trudeau-government-1.3585522
  2. https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2017/01/15/he-says-freedom-they-say-hate-the-pronoun-fight-is-back.html
  3. http://www.macleans.ca/opinion/for-transgender-canadians-bill-c-16-is-symbolic-yet-meaningful/
  4. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/university-of-toronto-professor-defends-right-to-use-gender-specific-pronouns/article32946675/
  5. http://nationalpost.com/opinion/bruce-pardy-meet-the-new-human-rights-where-you-are-forced-by-law-to-use-reasonable-pronouns-like-ze-and-zer
  6. https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/11/16/laurier-university-starts-independent-probe-after-teaching-assistant-plays-clip-of-gender-debate.html
  7. http://nationalpost.com/news/politics/what-the-wilfried-laurier-professors-got-wrong-about-bill-c-16-and-gender-identity-discrimination

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Change of Sex Designation for…

Like all content on this website, this document is not legal advice and is provided solely for the purpose of public information and education. If you are facing a legal issue or have a question about your specific situation, you should consider seeking independent legal advice. You can find a list of legal clinics and other resources to help you here.

The CCLA is a national organization that works to protect and promote fundamental human rights and civil liberties. To fulfill this mandate, the CCLA focuses on litigation, law reform, advocacy and public education. Our organization is not a legal clinic. As such, we are typically not in a position to provide members of the public with legal advice or direct legal representation. However, we do try to provide general legal information and appropriate referrals where possible. For questions about this document, email publicenquiries [at] ccla [dot] org.

How can Trans Persons Change the Sex Designation on their Birth Certificate?

This guide is focused on issues relating to how trans persons can change the sex designation on their birth certificates. For information on how trans persons can legally change the name used on their identification documents, see this guide.

This page is intended to help trans persons with issues related to changing the sex designation on their birth certificates. As such, some of this information may not be helpful to those seeking to change their birth certificates for another reason.

Note: Every effort has been made to ensure comprehensiveness and accuracy (as of May 2015). However, this FAQ may not fully reflect the current state of the law.

We use the term “trans” to include anyone who does not identify with the sex designation they were assigned at birth.

Questions addressed in this FAQ:

  • Why might I want to change the sex designation on my birth certificate?
  • Should I have to have surgery in order to change the sex designation on my birth certificate?
  • Are sex designations on birth certificates even necessary?
  • How can I change the sex designation on my birth certificate?
  • Where do I apply to change the sex designation on my birth certificate?
  • What proof do I need to show in order to change the sex designation on my birth certificate? Do I need to show proof of surgery?
  • Can I apply if I am younger than 18 or 19?
  • Can I apply even if I was born outside of my current province/territory?

You can download a PDF of this document here: CCLA Change of Sex Designation FAQ.

Why might I want to change the sex designation on my birth certificate?

Many trans persons consider the sex they were assigned at birth to be inaccurate. If this is you, changing the sex designation on your birth certificate may be important for your well-being. It is also important for legal reasons as well.

In order to enjoy a greater degree of safety and freedom from discrimination, you may want to have identification documents that match the gender with which you identify and present yourself. The information on most identification documents is drawn from birth certificates, so changing your birth certificate is often a necessary first step. “Sex” is a category on most driver’s licenses, passports and health cards, and so you may find yourself being forced to discuss your gender identity – sometimes even your genitals – with a stranger. This is even worse when that stranger is empowered to make decisions that greatly affect you, such as whether to write you a traffic ticket, offer you a job, refer you for medical treatment, or let you enter the country.

Trans persons face widespread discrimination and high rates of violence. Of trans Ontarians surveyed by the Trans PULSE Project, 26% reported being hit or beaten up because they were trans, 73% reported being made fun of, and 39% reported being turned down for a job. In 2010, Trans PULSE estimated that 50% of trans Ontarians had seriously considered suicide at some point in their lives because of the discrimination they faced. Involuntary outing on a regular basis, such as by having an inaccurate gender specified on your identification documents, eliminates one of the few mechanisms you may have to protect yourself from transphobia.

In 2014, a judge in Alberta considered the constitutionality of the provincial law that regulated gender markers on birth certificates. The judge struck down that law, because it was contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In doing so, the judge cited a prior decision of the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. That decision detailed some of the discrimination faced by trans persons (referred to here as “transgendered” [sic]):

“[T]ransgendered persons as a group tend to face very high rates of verbal harassment and physical assault and are sometimes even murdered because of their transgendered status. […] [I]t is very difficult for a transgendered person to find employment, […] there are very high rates of unemployment among transgendered people generally, and […] many transgendered people are fired once they are exposed in the workplace as being transgendered.”

These concerns also extend to young trans persons, who may be forced to endure bullying by their peers if the sex designation on school records does not match their gender identity.

Should I have to have surgery in order to change the sex designation on my birth certificate?

Many trans persons want the benefits of official documents that correspond to their identity but may not want to undergo surgery. They may be content with the use of hormones or simply by presenting themselves consistently with their gender identity.

Gender reassignment surgery can be expensive, difficult to access, and carries the risks associated with any surgery. In addition, it has been reported to typically cause sterility. Gabrielle Bouchard of the Montreal-based Centre for Gender Advocacy has said the surgical requirement in order for official documents to be changed amounts to mandatory sterilization. The surgery requirement also emphasizes biological sex characteristics rather than gender identity. Even after surgery has been performed, a second doctor must sometimes “confirm” the surgery. C.F., the plaintiff in the Alberta court case mentioned earlier, told the Edmonton Journal:

“What this legislation requires is that you not only submit to dangerous, risky surgery, but then actually attend for a humiliating genital inspection before two separate physicians, both of whom will make a value judgment about whether your genitals are sufficiently female[.] It’s like something from ages gone by. It’s very disturbing stuff.”

Due to these types of concerns, there have been and continue to be legal challenges to the various provincial legislation that require reassignment surgery in order to change sex designation. In the Ontario and Alberta decisions discussed earlier, the requirement for gender reassignment surgery was found to be discriminatory. As a result of these rulings, several provinces, including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec, have taken steps to amend their laws to remove reassignment surgery from the requirements necessary in order for you to change your sex designation. Nova Scotia has also indicated that it plans to amend its legislation to remove the surgery requirement.

Are sex designations on birth certificates even necessary?

Some activists have argued for the removal of sex designations from identification documents altogether, on the basis that gender identity is not a binary classification. The binary does not accommodate people who do not identify with a binary gender classification.

Ongoing cases challenging legislation in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Quebec are seeking the removal of sex designations from birth certificates. So far, although several provinces have removed the surgery requirement, no province has taken the step of removing sex designations altogether or providing for a third non-binary option.

In contrast, several countries, including Australia and Germany, now allow persons to designate their sex on their passport with an “X”. However, some trans rights advocates argue that the “X” continues to out trans persons, and is used as an excuse for not eliminating the surgery requirement. An Australian court has ordered the government to register a third category of sex designations on birth certificates and name change certificates.

For more on the possibility of non-binary gender designations, see the BC Law Institute’s report, where the Institute highlights the implications and consequences of different solutions to providing a non-binary sex designation in Canada.

How can I change the sex designation on my birth certificate?

All provinces and territories except Nunavut have procedures for changing sex designations when a person has undergone gender reassignment surgery.

The rules for changing the sex designation on a birth certificate vary from province to province. They are also changing rapidly. In all provinces except Quebec, where the Civil Code governs these issues, the law concerning birth registration is found in the provincial Vital Statistics Act and associated regulations. These laws and regulations can be consulted for free on http://canlii.org. Note that a province may have policies that are not in the legislation. For more information about requirements, check with the government agency responsible for birth certificates in your province or territory (listed below), or with a trans advocacy organization, such as Egale Canada.

Many provinces require letters from a mental health professional in order to change a person’s gender marker or name. Such a letter may also be required to access sex reassignment surgery.

Where do I apply to change the sex designation on my birth certificate?

Online government information is limited outside British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario. Where specific information regarding change of sex designation is unavailable on a province’s website, the links below provide contact information for the appropriate agency.

Alberta Service Alberta
British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency
Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency
New Brunswick Service New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador Service NL
Nova Scotia Service Nova Scotia
Ontario Service Ontario
Prince Edward Island Department of Health and Wellness (Vital Statistics)
Quebec Directeur de l’état civil (in English, see bottom of the webpage)
Saskatchewan eHealth Saskatchewan (Vital Statistics)
Northwest Territories Health and Social Services (Vital Statistics)
Nunavut Department of Health (only general information is available; Nunavut does not have a law that allows for changing the sex designation on your birth certificate)
Yukon Health and Social Services (Vital Statistics)

What proof do I need to show in order to change the sex designation on my birth certificate? Do I need to show proof of surgery?

Until recently, all provinces and territories required you to have gender reassignment surgery if you wanted to change the sex designation on your birth certificate. Ontario became the first province to drop this requirement in 2012 when, as mentioned previously, its human rights tribunal ruled the requirement was discriminatory. The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench handed down a similar ruling in April 2014. Ontario has not officially amended their legislation, but are now registering changes without proof of surgery as a matter of policy. British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba are the only provinces that have formally amended their legislation to eliminate the surgery requirement. In Alberta, the new requirements are set out in regulations.

New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI and Saskatchewan all require applicants to document that they have undergone gender reassignment surgery, usually by having at least two physicians – the surgeon who performed the surgery and another who did not – certify that fact. Quebec and Nova Scotia also currently require proof of surgery, but changes to the law are on their way (see below). In Quebec, the second physician must practice medicine in Quebec. In New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories, the second physician must be licensed in any Canadian jurisdiction.

The law in this area is changing rapidly as legislation is amended and court challenges are brought regarding surgery requirements. Consulting the relevant statutes will not always give a full picture of the current requirements or upcoming amendments. For current information, contact a trans advocacy organization, such as Egale Canada.

Alberta No proof of surgery required;

You must provide:

A declaration, which provides your date of birth, and states that you identify with and maintain the gender identity that corresponds with your desired sex designation; and

Confirmation from a licensed doctor or psychologist licensed in Alberta or another jurisdiction that the sex designation on your birth certificate does not correspond with your gender identityBritish ColumbiaNo proof of surgery required;

You must provide:

A declaration, which states you have assumed, identify with and intend to maintain the gender identity that corresponds with your desired sex designation; and

Confirmation from a doctor or psychologist licensed in BC or the province or territory where you live that the sex designation on your birth certificate does not correspond with your gender identityManitobaNo proof of surgery required;

You must provide:

A declaration, which states you identify with the requested sex designation, you are currently living full-time in a manner consistent with the requested sex designation and you intend to continue doing so; and

A supporting letter from a health care professional licensed in Canada or where you live that your gender identity corresponds with the requested sex designationNew BrunswickProof of surgery requiredNewfoundland and LabradorProof of surgery requiredNova ScotiaProof of surgery still required, but a bill to eliminate the requirement has received royal assent. Under the new law, which is not yet in force, you will written statements from themselves and a member of a profession to be prescribed in the regulations that confirm your gender identity.OntarioNo proof of surgery required;

You must provide:

A declaration, which states your gender identity); and

A note from a doctor or psychologist licensed to practice in Canada that confirms your gender identityPrince Edward IslandProof of surgery requiredQuebecProof of surgery required, but change is pending;

The requirements under the new law have not been set yet.SaskatchewanProof of surgery requiredNorthwest TerritoriesProof of surgery requiredYukonProof of surgery requiredNunavutThere is no provision in the Vital Statistics Act for changing sex designation, even with surgery

Can I apply if I am younger than 18 or 19?

Sex reassignment surgery is generally not performed on those under the provincial age of majority, as all clinics in Canada that currently perform reassignment surgery conform to the recognized Standards of Care. These Standards, which are regarding health care for trans persons, forbid irreversible interventions (such as surgery) on patients before they reach the age of majority. As a result, if you are a minor in Canada, you generally cannot change your sex designation in provinces or territories where proof of surgery is required.

In provinces that do not require surgery, the age requirements vary:

Note that legal challenges to the minimum age requirements are currently proceeding in several provinces, including Quebec and Saskatchewan. Click here to listen to an interesting radio interview with a 10 year old who would like to change the sex designation on her birth certificate.

Alberta No age minimum, but if you are under the age of majority (18), you must have parental/guardian permission
British Columbia No age minimum, but if you are under the age of majority (19), you must have parental/guardian permission
Manitoba No age minimum, but health care professional must attest to your capacity to make health care decisions
New Brunswick No age minimum, but surgery is required and will not be performed if you are under 18; in addition, if you are under the age of majority (19), you must have parental/guardian permission
Newfoundland and Labrador No age minimum, but surgery is required and will not be performed if you are under 18; in addition, if you are under the age of majority (19), you must have parental/guardian permission
Nova Scotia Under current law: No age minimum, but surgery is required and will not be performed if you are under 18; in addition, if you are under the age of majority (19), you must have parental/guardian permission.

Under new law (not yet in force): No age minimum, but if you are under 16, you must have parental/guardian permission or apply to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia for an order dispensing with the requirement of parental consent.OntarioNo age minimum, but if you are under 16, you must have parental/guardian permissionPrince Edward IslandNo age minimum, but surgery is required and will not be performed if you are under 18; in addition, if you are under the age of majority (18), you must have parental/guardian permissionQuebecAge minimum is 18.SaskatchewanNo age minimum, but surgery is required and will not be performed if you are under 18; in addition, if you are under the age of majority (18), you must have parental/guardian permissionNorthwest TerritoriesNo age minimum, but surgery is required and will not be performed if you are under 18; in addition, if you are under the age of majority (19), you must have parental/guardian permissionNunavutThere is no provision in the Vital Statistics Act for changing sex designationYukonNo age minimum, but surgery is required and will not be performed if you are under 18; in addition, if you are under the age of majority (19), you must have parental/guardian permission

Can I apply even if I was born outside of my current province/territory?

British Columbia, Ontario and Northwest Territories will change sex designations only for births registered in their respective provinces. Some provinces will register a change of sex and then transmit it to the jurisdiction where the birth was registered.

Alberta No explicit requirement that the applicant was born in Alberta
British Columbia Legislation requires that the applicant was born in British Columbia
Manitoba Legislation requires that the applicant was born in Manitoba. Changes permitting applications from Canadian citizens who have resided in Manitoba for at least one year (the latter will receive a “change of sex designation” certificate, not a new birth certificate) are not yet in force.
New Brunswick No explicit requirement that the applicant was born in New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador No explicit requirement that the applicant was born in Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia Under current law: Applicants born outside of Nova Scotia may apply, and the province will transmit their request to the jurisdiction where their birth was registered.

Under new law (not yet in force): Legislation requires that the applicant was born in Nova Scotia.OntarioLegislation requires that the applicant was born in OntarioPrince Edward IslandApplicants born outside of Prince Edward Island may apply, and the province will transmit their request to the jurisdiction where their birth was registered.SaskatchewanNo explicit requirement that the applicant was born in SaskatchewanQuebecUnder the new law (not yet in force): Legislation requires that the applicant was born in Canada and resides in Quebec, or that the applicant was born in Quebec and resides in a place where change of sex designation is unavailable or impossibleNorthwest TerritoriesLegislation requires that the applicant was born in Northwest TerritoriesNunavutThere is no provision in the Vital Statistics Act for changing sex designationYukonApplicants born outside of Yukon may apply, and the province will transmit their request to the jurisdiction where their birth was registered

For more information:

The Trans PULSE Project prepared a report for the Canadian Human Rights Commission on sex designation in federal and provincial IDs in 2012. The report was prepared for hearings on Bill C-279, a proposal to add gender identity and expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act and to hate crime provisions of the Criminal Code. The report can be found here.

In 2014, the British Columbia Law Institute prepared a report for the Uniform Law Conference of Canada on the state of the Canadian law regarding change of sex designation, and regarding options for reform in 2014. The report can be found here.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Change of Name for Trans…

Like all content on this website, this document is not legal advice and is provided solely for the purpose of public information and education. If you are facing a legal issue or have a question about your specific situation, you should consider seeking independent legal advice. You can find a list of legal clinics and other resources to help you here. Please note that this material was last updated in 2015.

The CCLA is a national organization that works to protect and promote fundamental human rights and civil liberties. To fulfill this mandate, the CCLA focuses on litigation, law reform, advocacy and public education. Our organization is not a legal clinic. As such, we are typically not in a position to provide members of the public with legal advice or direct legal representation. However, we do try to provide general legal information and appropriate referrals where possible. For questions about this document, email publicenquiries [at] ccla [dot] org.

How can Trans Persons Change the Name on their Identification Documents?

This guide is focused on issues relating to how trans persons can change the name used on their identification documents. For information on how trans persons can legally change the sex designation on their birth certificate, see this guide.

This page is intended to help trans persons with issues related to changing the name used on their identification documents. As such, some of this information may not be helpful to those seeking to change their name for another reason, like marriage or divorce.

For those seeking in-person assistance, Pro Bono Students Canada have launched the Trans ID Clinic, in partnership with Blakes, Cassels & Graydon LLP and SKETCH, a Toronto-based arts organisation for vulnerable youth, to provide free legal information and assistance with name change (and gender marker) change applications.

Note: Every effort has been made to ensure comprehensiveness and accuracy (as of January 2015). However, this FAQ may not fully reflect the current state of the law. 

We use the term “trans” to include anyone who does not identify with the sex designation they were assigned at birth.

Questions addressed in this FAQ:

  • Where do I apply to change my name?
  • What documents do I need for my name change application?
  • Can the government refuse my request for a name change?
  • Will my name change be made public?
  • Can I apply if I am younger than 18 or 19?
  • Can I apply even if I was born outside of my current province/territory?
  • What document will I get to prove my new name?
  • What other documents can I change to reflect my new name?

You can download a PDF of this document here: CCLA Change of Name FAQ.

Where do I apply to change my name?

Apply to the government agency responsible for birth registration in each province and territory. Those agencies are also responsible for name change applications. Most provinces and territories will process your legal name change application if you was born there and/or currently live there. Some jurisdictions have a minimum amount of time that you have to live there, however (discussed below).

Forms and general information are available on the websites of the relevant agency of each province or territory:

Alberta Service Alberta
British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency
Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency (includes changes made in August 2014)
New Brunswick Service New Brunswick (see also useful pamphlet here)
Newfoundland Service NL
Nova Scotia Service Nova Scotia (see also useful pamphlet here)
Ontario Service Ontario
Prince Edward Island Department of Health and Wellness (Vital Statistics)
Quebec Directeur de l’état civil
Saskatchewan eHealth Saskatchewan (Vital Statistics)
NWT Health and Social Services (Vital Statistics)
Yukon Health and Social Services (Vital Statistics)
Nunavut Department of Health (only general information is available)

Can I apply even if I was born outside of my current province/territory?

Yes. All provinces and territories allow residents to apply, even if you were born in another province, territory or country. All (except Alberta) require that you have lived there for a minimum period of time. Some jurisdictions have additional requirements, e.g. that you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Here are the details:

Alberta Minimum residency period: no minimum, but must be an Alberta resident
British Columbia Minimum residency period: 3 months
Manitoba Minimum residency period: 3 months
New Brunswick Minimum residency period: 3 months
Newfoundland and Labrador Minimum residency period: 3 months
Nova Scotia Minimum residency period: 1 year
Ontario Minimum residency period: 1 year
Prince Edward Island Minimum residency period: 3 months
Quebec Minimum residency period: 1 yearOnly available if you are a Canadian citizen
Saskatchewan Minimum residency period: 3 months
Northwest Territories Minimum residency period: 3 monthsOnly available if you are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or otherwise legally allowed to be in Canada
Yukon Minimum residency period: 3 months
Nunavut Minimum residency period: 1 year

What documents do I need for my name change application?

This varies from place to place. Many provinces and territories have detailed descriptions of the documents you will need. Please consult the relevant provincial or territorial agency (listed above), or the applicable legislation/regulations, for a full list. In many cases, the forms that you need to fill out will also list the documentation you have to provide.

In general, some of the common documentation requirements include:

  • Proof of identity.
  • An affidavit or declaration setting out your personal information such as: name, address, marital status, reasons for seeking a name change, details of any previous name changes, and details of any criminal convictions or acquittals.
  • Original copies of your birth certificate if born in Canada, or copies of immigration documents if born outside Canada. (Saskatchewan requires original birth certificates if you were born in the United States.)
  • The consent of another person, in some circumstances (for example, your spouse might need to consent; or, if you are applying for a minor, any other custodial parent may need to consent, and the minor may need to consent).
  • A declaration from a “sponsor” (who cannot be related to you) who has known you for two years and can confirm your identity (New Brunswick only).
  • Fingerprints by a law enforcement agency in some cases (Alberta and Nova Scotia only, unless you are under 12 years old; and British Columbia and Manitoba only, unless you are under 18).
  • Criminal record checks (Ontario and British Columbia only).

Note that all provinces and territories charge a fee – check with the relevant agency to determine what the current fee is.

The full list of necessary documents and other requirements is available in the statutes and regulations, which can be consulted for free on http://canlii.org (links in the chart below). Note that a province may have policies that are not in the legislation. For more information about requirements, check with the government agency responsible.

Alberta Vital Statistics Act, section 24 for full list.
British Columbia Name Act, sections 6.1, 7
Manitoba The Change of Name Act, section 2(2)
New Brunswick Change of Name Act, section 4(2) (different rules for minors than for adults)
Newfoundland Change of Name Act, 2009, section 10
Nova Scotia Change of Name Act, section 12 (copies of forms and the declaration are available in the Regulations)
Ontario Change of Name Act, section 6(2) (including circumstances in which a police records check is required)
Prince Edward Island Change of Name Act, section 7
Quebec Civil Code of Quebec, article 61 (full list of requirements in Regulations, sections 2 and 4)
Saskatchewan The Change of Name Act, 1995, section 6
NWT Change of Name Act, section 9 (and Form 5 in Schedule A to the Regulations)
Yukon Change of Name Act, section 3
Nunavut Change of Name Act, section 9

Can the government refuse my request for a name change?

In some cases, yes. Most provinces and territories have technical registration requirements. For example, a name usually must contain a first and last name, must use the Roman alphabet, and not contain any numbers or special characters (with some exceptions, such as hyphenated last names). If you did not meet these technical requirements, or if you missed some other requirement (e.g. you did not include a required document), your application can be rejected.

Most provinces and territories may also refuse your name change application on substantive grounds, including if:

Alberta Your new name would cause confusion Your new name would embarrass a person Your new name would defraud or mislead the public Your new name would be otherwise objectionable
British Columbia Your new name would cause confusion or mistake Your new name would embarrass a person Your new name would be otherwise objectionable You want to change your name for an improper purpose
Manitoba Your new name would cause mistake or confusion You have made frequent name changes You want to change your name for an improper purpose
New Brunswick Your new name would cause confusion or mistake You have made frequent name changes You want to change your name for a fraudulent or improper purpose
Newfoundland and Labrador Your new name would cause mistake or confusion Your new name would be undesirable in the public interest You want to change your name for an improper purpose You have made frequent name changes
Nova Scotia Your name change is obtained through fraud, duress or misrepresentation
Ontario You want to change your name for an improper purpose
Prince Edward Island Your name change is obtained through misrepresentation You want to change your name for a fraudulent or unlawful purpose
Quebec None specified.
Saskatchewan Your name change would not in the public interest
Northwest Territories Your new name would cause confusion or embarrassment Your new name would defraud or mislead the public You want to change your name for a fraudulent or unlawful purpose
Yukon Your name change is obtained through misrepresentation You want to change your name for a fraudulent or unlawful purpose Your new name contains more than one hyphen
Nunavut Your new name would cause mistake, confusion or embarrassment You want to change your name for an improper purpose Your new name is otherwise objectionable

Will my name change be made public?

Likely not. The default rule in all provinces and territories (except Nunavut) is that name changes must be published, either in an official publication (like the provincial “Gazette”) or, for Quebec, in a local newspaper. (Newfoundland and Labrador does not publish name changes if the only thing that is changing is your first name.) Some of these publications, including the official Gazettes, are available online or from local libraries.

However, all provinces as well as the Northwest Territories have exemptions which could be used by trans persons.

Quebec and Ontario expressly waive name changes related to change of sexual identity. Other provinces do not expressly exempt trans persons from the publication requirement. Trans persons seeking an exemption must obtain it under general “public interest” waiver. The grounds you can rely on for an exception in each province and territory include:

Alberta You are commonly known under the name applied for You would be unduly prejudiced, embarrassed or harmed by publication; it would cause you undue hardship. The change of name is for a minor (under 18)
British Columbia Publication is not “in the public interest”
Manitoba You are commonly known under the name applied for You would be unduly prejudiced, embarrassed or harmed by publication; it would cause you undue hardship Publication is not “in the public interest”
New Brunswick You are commonly known under the name applied forY ou would be unduly prejudiced, embarrassed or harmed by publication; it would cause you undue hardship Publication “would serve no useful purpose”
Newfoundland and Labrador You are commonly known under the name applied for You would be unduly prejudiced, embarrassed or harmed by publication; it would cause you undue hardship The change of name is for a minor (under 19)
Nova Scotia You are commonly known under the name applied for You would be unduly prejudiced, embarrassed or harmed by publication; it would cause you undue hardship Publication is not “in the public interest” The change of name is for a minor (under 19)
Ontario Express exemption for trans persons
Prince Edward Island You would be unduly prejudiced, embarrassed or harmed by publication; it would cause you undue hardship
Quebec Express exemption for trans persons
Saskatchewan You would be unduly prejudiced, embarrassed or harmed by publication; it would cause you undue hardship Publication is not “in the public interest” The change of name is for a child (under 15)
Northwest Territories You are commonly known under the name applied for.You would be unduly prejudiced, embarrassed or harmed by publication; it would cause you undue hardship The change of name is for a minor (under 19)
Yukon None specified.
Nunavut None specified.

Note that, in addition to publication requirements, many provinces and territories will tell public authorities (such as the RCMP or local police) about your name change.

Can I apply if I am younger than 18 or 19?

Generally, no. You can only apply to change your name if you are of “the age of majority”, which is 18 in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan; and 19 in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut. In Nova Scotia, a law to lower the age for a change of name or sex designation to 16 years old was recently passed but is not yet in force. There are sometimes exemptions for minors who are/were married or have custody of a child.

All jurisdictions permit parents or guardians to apply on behalf of minors, though some conditions apply, such as obtaining permission of the minor if they are above a certain age (usually 12) and/or obtaining permission of other parents or guardians. The precise consent requirements vary in each province or territory.

What document will I get to prove my new name?

The government agency responsible for name changes will note the change on the register. In most jurisdictions, they will issue you a name change certificate. The government agency will also issue you a new birth or marriage certificate, if you were born or married in that jurisdiction.

If you were born or married in a different Canadian province or territory, the agency changing your name will usually notify the agency of that province or territory. You will have to apply to that agency for a new birth or marriage certificate.

If you were born or married in a foreign country, some provinces and territories (Manitoba, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Yukon) will forward proof of your name change to the authorities in that country, but only with your consent. Nunavut will forward the change of name information to the federal Deputy Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.

The Saskatchewan vital statistics office will also forward proof of your name change to various public agencies responsible for social insurance numbers, driver’s licensing, and immigration documents.

What other documents can I change to reflect my new name?

Several jurisdictions (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut) expressly grant you the right, following a legal name change, to change the name on any documents, public or private. Quebec provides an express entitlement to demand documents bearing a previous name be corrected, but does not specify whether this includes private documents. New Brunswick provides for public documents to be changed.

Note that some documents, like passports, are issued under federal legislation. In order to change the information on a passport, a birth certificate or proof of Canadian citizenship showing the new information will be required.

There is usually a fee associated with changing the name on documents.

For more information:

In Nova Scotia, see this guide by Capital Health for persons who are transitioning, which includes a legal guide and community resources (note that the guide was, at the time of publication, not updated to reflect recent changes to the law). In Quebec, see this similar guide provided by Santé Trans Health.

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