Canadians who claim to be neither a man nor a woman will be able to identify their gender as “X” on their passports.
The move from the department for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship is intended to “support LGBTQ2 rights” and advance the Canadian government’s “agenda on gender equality, diversity and inclusion”.
“An ‘X’ will make it easier for people who do not identify as female (‘F’) or male (‘M’) to acquire passports and other government-issued documents that better reflect their gender identity,” reads a government statement.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said he made the changes so that all Canadians could “feel safe to be themselves” and “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,” Hussen added.
“X” will be available on passports from August 31st.
Other countries that allow for a third “unspecified” gender category include Australia, Denmark, Germany, and New Zealand.
In April, British LBGT activist group Stonewall called for a gender-neutral “X” option for UK passports, claiming transgender people are “afraid to travel abroad for fear of intrusive questioning or difficulties at passport control”.
In June, Canada’s province Ontario passed legislation that allows the government to seize children from families that refuse to accept their child’s chosen “gender identity” or “gender expression”.
Bill 89, “Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act, 2017”, was approved on June 1 by a vote of 63 to 23.
The Minister of Children and Youth Services, Michael Coteau, who introduced the bill, said earlier this year that a parent’s failure to recognise and support a child’s gender self-identification is a form of “child abuse”, and a child in these circumstances should be removed from their parents and placed into “protection where the abuse stops”.
In the same month, in the first case of its kind in the country, a baby in British Columbia was issued with a health card with the letter “U” for a gender marker. The child’s “parent”, non-binary transgender Kori Doty, also petitioned the government to have baby Searyl’s gender omitted from their birth certificate.