By Hugo O’Doherty
Starting August 31, Canadians will be able to identify as neither male nor female when applying for a passport. In addition, other documents issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will include an ‘X’. The measure will allow people to identify themselves as having a gender that is unspecified.
The government of Canada has not described in detail what the interim measures would include, but did explain that individuals will be able to add an observation to their passport stating their sex should be identified as ‘X’. These measures will only be in place until the government can print documents with an ‘X’, in addition to ‘M’ for male and ‘F’ for female.
In announcing the introduction of the ‘X’ designation, federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen stated that “All Canadians should feel safe to be themselves, live according to their gender identity and express their gender as they choose. By introducing an “X” gender designation in our government-issued documents, we are taking an important step towards advancing equality for all Canadians regardless of gender identity or expression.”
The move forms part of the government’s objective to support LGBTQ2 rights and advance its agenda on gender equality, diversity, and inclusion. Last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Member of Parliament Randy Boissonnault as Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues.
In a statement, the government added that it will continue its work in developing a consistent approach to how departments and programs collect, use, and display sex and gender information ‘so Canadians can have their gender more accurately reflected in government documents while also protecting their privacy,’ adding that the government is ‘committed to better reflecting the gender identity and gender diversity of Canadians.’
A recent change to Canada’s citizenship laws means that immigrants to Canada will soon be able to transition to citizenship more quickly and more easily than previously. The Canadian Citizenship Eligibility Calculator allows users to determine if or when they may be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship. With citizenship, an individual may then apply for a Canadian passport.