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Manitoba government ordered to offer non-binary sex designation on birth certificates
LGBT flag. (AP / Niranjan Shrestha)
WINNIPEG -- An adjudicator has ordered the province to offer a non-binary sex designation on Manitoba birth certificates beginning within the next few months.
This decision comes after complainant T.A. – who is transgender and identifies as pangender -- filed a complaint of discrimination against the Manitoba government for denying them a gender-congruent birth certificate.
WHY THE COMPLAINT WAS FILED
According to the decision from adjudicator Dan Manning, in December 2013 T.A. put in a request with the province’s Vital Statistics Agency to remove the sex designation from their birth certificate. The request included a letter from a psychologist that said T.A.’s gender identity did not align with what was on the birth certificate and asked to change the gender identity on the birth certificate to ‘X.’
The director and COO of the Vital Statistics Agency at the time wrote back in January 2014 and said the only sex designations available were ‘M’ for male and ‘F’ for female. T.A. was told there are no other available sex designations, and that sex designations have to be displayed on all birth certificates.
T.A. decided to not pursue a birth certificate, and in February 2015 filed the complaint under the Manitoba Human Rights Code.
In the decision, Manning said the seriousness of the incident was on the high end.
“Gender identity is a part of our concept of selfhood,” he said in the decision.
“The Director’s practice to not allow non-binary designations of sex designation and only permit male or female designations was effectively the government refusing to acknowledge T.A.’s agency and personhood.”
Manning goes on to say that transgender and non-binary people are faced with a number of difficulties in society, which human rights tribunals have recognized for a long a time.
“That is why the (Manitoba Human Right Code) was updated to recognize and protect gender identity. This protection was legislated in the Code before the Agency refused to issue a birth certificate with a non-binary sex designation to the complainant.
“Effectively, the practice of the Agency sent a message to the complainant that the Code’s protection of “gender identity” was illusory.”
CHANGES TO COME
Manning ordered that within 180 days of the decision -- dated Nov. 4 – the province has to alter the criteria for changing sex designation to include the recognition of non-binary designations, and within a further 30 days it has to take steps to publicize the criteria. The Manitoba Human Rights Commission has also been ordered to help publicize and inform relevant health providers.
T.A. will also be awarded $50,000 within 60 days of the decision. The complainant was denied an additional $25,000 in exemplary damages, because Manning doesn’t believe the Vital Statistics Agency acted with malice, recklessness or deliberate abuse of authority.