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Quebec's New Bill Requires Surgery For Birth Certificate Sex Changes, Sparking Backlash

"[It] will set back the rights of [transgender] people by 15 years."

Quebec's New Bill Requires Surgery For Birth Certificate Sex Changes, Sparking Backlash

A newly proposed Quebec bill would require transgender people to have surgery in order to change the sex on their birth certificates. Bill 2 was tabled by Minister of Justice Simon Jolin-Barrette on October 21, and it also seeks to separate "gender" and "sex" into two distinct options.

Many Quebecers — including opposition parties and activists — have taken to social media to speak out against the bill and defend the rights of the LGBTQ community.

What does this bill entail?

"An application for a change of the designation of sex that appears in a person's act of birth must be accompanied by [...] a certificate from the attending physician confirming that the medical treatments and surgical operations undergone by the applicant make it possible to conclude that there has been a structural alteration of the sexual organs," reads section 247 of the new bill.

In addition to proof of surgery, Quebecers who want to apply for a sex change on their birth certificate would then need to get a note from a second physician, the bill says, to confirm that the treatment was successful.

They would be given the option to add "gender identity" to their birth certificate, which doesn't require the same conditions as changing "sex," the bill says.

The Superior Court of Québec gave the province until December 31, 2021, to revise the Civil Code after finding that it discriminates against trans people — requirements this bill would need to fulfill.

Why are people speaking out against Bill 2?

Quebec removed surgery as a requirement for changing sex on government documents in 2015 so critics say this is a step backwards.

"While this condition was abolished in 2015, the Minister of Justice is going backwards by imposing it again in his current Bill 2," reads a news release from the Parti libéral du Québec.

"This is a regressive change that puts all trans people who have not had genital surgery at risk, and will force people who do not want it to have it," added Jennifer Maccarone, MP for Westmount-St. Louis and Official Opposition Critic for the LGBTQ2 community in a statement.

Manon Massé, Québec Solidaire spokesperson, posted a video to Twitter to condemn the bill.

"People from the 2SLGBTQi+ communities, trans people, intersex people are angry with the Caquiste government. Simon Jolin-Barrette is trying to pull a fast one in his new bill that will set back the rights of these people by 15 years," she said.

"I want to tell you that many of us will stand with you, and I, and Québec Solidaire in the National Assembly, will be there to ensure that your rights will not be rolled back."

What do the transgender advocates say?

The Centre for Gender Advocacy in Montreal posted on Instagram that it is "denouncing, in the most strongest terms possible and alongside the trans and intersex communities, Bill #2."

Tansfeminine activist Florence Paré, who also goes by Florence Ashley, posted the following sentiment on Facebook:

"What the fuck? The Québec government is proposing having both 'sex' and 'gender' on birth certificates and only allow people to change their 'sex' if they had genital surgeries. This is so fucking transphobic and backwards. All allies need to speak out about this LOUDLY and IMMEDIATELY. If you have any institutional weight, PUSH BACK."

"How much does the principal of a school I want to attend need to know that I am trans, and what is in my pants???" posted Allien Thivierge, the founder of inclusive dance movement PLURI.

"It's unacceptable and we need to talk about it now!!"

According to Lesbian Speed Dating Montreal's Instagram page, members of the trans community and allies have been in meetings in order to come together and "stand against this transphobic bill."

It says The Centre for Gender Advocacy plans to provide a more in-depth update in the near future.