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Canadian Passports Will Soon Offer Gender-Neutral Designation


New regulations will soon allow Canadians to obtain gender-neutral passports.

Starting Aug. 31, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will put interim measures into effect that will allow people to identify with an unspecified gender. The only essential detail the federal government has provided about those measures is that there will be the option to print documents with an ‘X’ in place of an ‘M’ or ‘F’ as indication of sex.

"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," Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said in a statement.

Global Citizen campaigns on gender equality and believes in protecting the rights of all people. The Trans Murder Monitoring report for The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia in 2016 outlined that there had been 2,115 reported cases of murdered transgender and gender-diverse in 65 countries between Jan. 1, 2008 and April 30, 2016. The highest number of killings were reported in Brazil (845 cases), Mexico (247 cases) and Colombia (108 cases).

Read More: Transgender Pakistanis Will Be Officially Recognized as Citizens for First Time Ever

As stated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a sex field is mandatory for travel documents, but the organization is allowing the designation of ‘X’ for “unspecified.”

Unfortunately, not all countries have laws around equality when it comes to transgender communities, so people travelling outside of Canada are advised to review government travel advisories before exiting the country.

Hussen said this change was made so that Canadians can all feel safe to be themselves and identify as they choose.

This change comes months after Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould announced that the federal government would be amending its gender identity policies.

A number of Canadians have made requests to have their birth certificates changed to reflect how they identify with gender. In July, a Canadian baby was the first infant to ever be issued a genderless health card.

Read More: A Canadian Baby Has Been Issued a Genderless ID Card

The news about the passport application changes was well received by some transgender Canadians, but criticized by others.

"I'm thrilled, it's a step forward for our society. It's progress," Laura Budd, a figure who has been vocal in the media about growing up transgender, told CBC.

Budd identifies as a woman, but was designated as male when she was born. Hiding her identity lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and depression.

Identifying as neither male nor female, Joshua Ferguson is a non-binary transgender person.

"I think this is definitely a positive step in the right direction," they told CBC.

Read More: How Workplaces in India Are Slowly Becoming Transgender-Friendly

But given that Ferguson is currently struggling to have their Ontario birth certificate changed to reflect their gender as non-binary, there is still more to be done to support this move.

"How would I apply for [a passport] if I can't even obtain a birth certificate — or my other forms of ID that would state non-binary options — that you need to submit as proof of ID when you do a change of status on your passport?" they said.

Because there is still a struggle to have documents changed, like in Ontario, where there is still no gender-neutral option for birth certificates, some argue the implementation of new passport measures is not enough.

"It's a step in the right direction but it's still not acceptable," Fran Forsberg, the parent of a nine-year-old transgender child, told CBC. "Putting an 'X' there singles people out as different. There's no reason to have gender or sexual identity on identification, none whatsoever."