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LGBTI

First non-binary birth certificate issued in Ontario hailed as a ‘victory for trans community’

Joshua Ferguson had waited nearly a year after petitioning the provincial government for the new document, on which there is no Mr or Ms, but only ‘they’

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 May, 2018, 5:24pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 May, 2018, 8:31pm

Canada’s largest province has issued its first non-binary birth certificate, marking the culmination of a successful human rights claim against Ontario.

Joshua Ferguson had waited nearly a year after petitioning the provincial government for a new birth certificate in order change the document from male to non-binary, as Ferguson identifies as neither male nor female. Instead, the filmmaker uses the pronoun “they”.

“It’s a victory for me. It’s a victory for the trans community,” Ferguson said on Monday.

Born in Ontario but now living in Vancouver, Ferguson had travelled to Toronto to apply for the new birth certificate, which they said would better reflect their identity. Ferguson’s successful application follows a push by the transgender activist Gemma Hickey, whose non-binary birth certificate in Newfoundland and Labrador last year marked a first for Canada.

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Ontario now provides several options for gender on birth certificates. In Ferguson’s case, gender is denoted by an “X”, but petitioners can also have their gender removed altogether from the official document.

Ontario issued its first gender-neutral driving licence and health identification cards last year. The federal government has said it will soon give Canadians the options to choose a third gender option when applying for a passport, a departure from the standard “male” or “female” options.

In 2017, California passed legislation to allow non-binary as an option for birth certificates, a law to go into effect in 2018.

“I feel a sense of relief because I know that this policy will save lives,” said Ferguson. A study released last year showed a significant number of trans youth in western Canada had contemplated suicide.

“I felt hope in my heart for the time when all of us are valued and respected as human beings,” Ferguson wrote in the caption of a photograph posted to social media. “It’s what truly matters.”