News / Vancouver

Should gender be included on ID? Feds look for input from B.C.'s trans community

Vancouver human rights lawyer is sceptical about whether consultation will have an impact

The Trans Pride flag flies outside Vancouver City Hall on July 27, 2015.

Emily Jackson / Metro

The Trans Pride flag flies outside Vancouver City Hall on July 27, 2015.

The federal government is looking for input from trans people in Vancouver on how it collects information about their gender identity, but a local human rights lawyer is sceptical about whether it will impact the government’s decisions.

Community members will meet in Vancouver on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the future of ID cards, and whether a person’s sex or gender should be printed on passports, driver’s licenses and birth certificates.

The federal government’s LGBTQ2 Secretariat will host the meeting, and among those planning to attend are members of the Gender-Free ID Coalition, including lawyer barbara findlay (who spells her name with lower case letters) who said she doesn’t think gender should be on any ID cards.

“There are more than two genders, and gender is fluid. That means that the binary M-F (male or female) system is useless…(because) there are people who identify as something other than male or female,”

One option, which some countries have started allowing for on passports and which Ontario now allows on provincial ID cards, is to put and ‘X’ instead of an ‘M’ or 'F’ on ID cards. However, findlay doesn’t think this idea of a third gender option makes sense.

“It doesn’t work simply to add an X or some other third option because gender is a fluid thing that changes from time to time,” she said.

findlay said she’s weary of agencies using consultations as “window dressing” to make it look like they’re considering public feedback.

“I have mixed feelings,” she said. “If the government is serious about listening to and taking advice from people, about the harm that is caused by gender markers (on IDs)…then yes I would look forward to it.”

“On the other hand, if they’re going to go home, write a report and do whatever they want anyways, then no I’m not,” Findlay said.

“I’m a bit cynical, I’ve been doing these things for a long time.”

The cross-country consultation comes as findlay is challenging the province of B.C. in court, arguing that putting gender on birth certificates is a human rights violation of newly born babies. Instead, she thinks people should have the right to choose their gender on their own, rather than say they are male or female right at birth.

“Gender is based on gender identity, not on what’s between the baby’s legs,” she said.

Documents for the court case have been filed, but a date for the hearing has not been set.

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