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Trans & Non-Binary Quebecers Gained More Rights In 2021 Thanks To A Major Court Ruling

But the government is appealing part of the court's decision.
Trans & Non-Binary Quebecers Gained More Rights In 2021 Thanks To A Major Court Ruling

As the world celebrated International Women's Day (IWD) on Monday, the day also brought up gender issues that persist in 2021.

People reminded each other that trans women are women while cautioning against including non-binary folks in #IWD posts without permission. This begs the question: Where do we stand in terms of transgender and non-binary rights in Quebec

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There have already been some major developments this year. In late January, Quebec's Superior Court declared several pieces of the province’s Civil Code unconstitutional — a big win for the nonbinary and transgender community. 

What are the current laws?

The Civil Code of Québec currently requires parents to identify themselves as a "mother" or "father" on their children's birth certificates and prevents them from changing their sex on the documents.

The Civil Code also restricts the age Quebecers can change their name or sex designation to 18 and older.

Quebecers aged 14 to 17 who want to change their name can only do so if their parent does not object. And they can only change their sex with a letter from a health professional who conducts an evaluation and declares the change of designation is "appropriate."

Non-citizens who live in Quebec cannot change their name or sex designation in the province until they become Canadian citizens and live in Quebec for at least one year.

What did the plaintiffs want to change?

The Centre for Gender Advocacy at Concordia University sued the Quebec government.

Its legal team argued that sections of the Civil Code violate the rights of transgender and non-binary Quebecers, as laid out in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The articles of the Code that the Centre moved to change contained rules on:

  • the requirement to designate sex on official documentation and identification

  • non-Canadian and young people’s ability to change their designation of sex and their name to conform with their gender identity

  • Changing the sex designation of a transgender parent on their child's birth certificate

The plaintiffs argued that these articles lead to the misidentification of transgender and non-binary people, creating confusion about their true identities.

"Other than on the day they are born, we do not examine a person's genitalia to identify whether they are male or female."

They also objected to disclosing sex at birth on drivers' licenses, health insurance cards and students’ permanent codes with the Ministry of Education, but did not challenge the legislation or policy decisions that created those rules.

What did the judge rule in the end?

The Honourable Gregory Moore made several important rulings, including:

  1. Transgender Quebecers can change their parental sex designation on their children’s birth certificates

  2. Quebecers will be able to identify themselves as a "parent" instead of a "mother" or "father" on their children's birth certificates

  3. Non-binary Quebecers now have the right to change their sex designation to something other than male or female on civil and legal documents

  4. Quebec residents who are non-citizens will now be allowed to change their name and sex designation on civil and legal documents

  5. Non-binary or trans youth aged 14 to 17 may apply to change their sex without the approval of a health professional

The judge ordered that he would suspend the declaration of the Civil Code rules being invalid until December 31, meaning the government has until then to change the legislation.

Quebec is appealing part of the court's rulings

In a press release on March 5, Quebec's Attorney General said he would appeal Justice Moore's ruling on Quebecers aged 14 to 17.

"The purpose of this supervision is to confirm the seriousness of the steps taken by the child, in their best interest," the statement says.

"The Quebec government is working on the modification of certain legislative provisions that it intends to introduce within the prescribed time frame."