Protecting non-binary and transgender rights in Quebec – Oppose Bill 2

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📅 Published on October 22, 2021

Update

The minister who proposed the changes we are opposing to Bill 2 has said that he will drop the changes that have been deemed transphobic! This is a win, but we need to keep the pressure on until he keeps his word and revokes the harmful amendments. Here’s how to keep the pressure on so he follows through on his promises.

Earlier this year, there was an exciting court victory won for non-binary and trans people in Quebec. The judge ruled, essentially, that it was unconstitutional for Quebec to continue to discriminate against non-binary people, and opened the door for an “X” gender option in Quebec. The judge gave the province until Jan. 1st, 2022 to implement the changes required to accommodate this.

For me, personally, this decision filled me with joy and hope – that my gender would finally be “legalized” in Quebec, that my identification would reflect reality, and that the government would be forced to educate its workers on how to be respectful to all people, not only men and women, in the way it addresses citizens. The effects would ripple out to the health care system (which still offers highly incompetent care to trans and especially non-binary people, especially when it comes to mental health), banks, insurance, housing, and any industry where we are required to present ID to access services.

Yesterday, I found out on Instagram that the CAQ (the party currently in power in Quebec) has decided to introduce a bill, Bill 2, which would essentially nullify the win we had earlier this year – and, make things even worse than they currently are for trans and non-binary people in Quebec.

Currently, there is one field on the birth certificate to indicate gender. The options are currently M, and F, and we were hoping that X would be added from the win earlier this year. When someone is trans, they often seek to change their gender on their ID documents to match their true gender. The first step to do this is to change your gender (and often name) on your birth certificate – all other changes to ID documents springs from the birth certificate. This process is long, expensive, and exposes people to the transphobic violence of intentional misgendering that is embedded in the current system, BUT once it’s done, it’s done.

Bill 2 proposes that a field be ADDED on all QC birth certificates, to indicate your gender, but only for those whose genitals don’t align with the normative definition according to gender. So, a cis woman’s ID would only show “F”. For a trans man that hasn’t had surgery, his birth certificate would say M for gender, and F for sex. A non-binary person with a penis would have an ID that says “X” for gender, and “M” for sex. You can probably see where this starts to go wrong for trans, intersex, and non-binary people – the most obvious is the clear discrimination between cis and trans people. Only trans people would ever have both sex and gender on their ID, forcing us out of the closet at a glance.

For intersex people, their genitals may not conform to what Quebec society currently classifies as “vagina” or “penis”. Even if it were appropriate to disclose on an identity document the shape of your sex organs, there is no shorthand for intersex people to use to describe them. So, the new system would continue to erase them entirely.

We prefer to use our discretion to disclose trans status based on our context. Our bank, our insurance companies, our landlords, don’t need to know what is between our legs. It is irrelevant, unless they want to discriminate against trans people. We can choose to disclose this information to our doctors, to our therapists, to our lovers/partners, and/or anyone else we choose. The key word here is “choose.” Indicating the shape of our sex organs, and/or our trans status, can expose us to gender-based discrimination and even violence, especially for trans women.

I am a part of a subgroup of trans people that would grossly affected by Bill 2. That group is those of us who are trans and have not had bottom surgery. It is not, and should not, be a requirement to have bottom surgery to live fully, honestly, and legally as our true gender in society, no matter the reason. Some people do not experience dysphoria related to their genitals, and so choose not to seek out an unnecessary surgical intervention. Some people cannot access surgery – for example, people who struggle with severe mental health challenges, people who do not have health care coverage, or people who don’t have enough support to recover from major surgery. Bill 2 would force anyone who wants their ID to unequivocally reflect their gender, and not out themselves as trans every time they present it, to surgically modify their sex organs. Only then, would we be able to move on with our lives and just live as ourselves, without being forced by our ID to out ourselves as transgender every time we have to pull it out.

Next, let’s talk about non-binary people. We are a group that has a myriad of genital configurations, and no one set of sex organs that is considered inherently “non-binary”. Many non-binary people are intersex. This is an absolutely beautiful thing – our existence challenges the very concept of a binary system of gender, just as intersex people challenge the concept of a binary system as sex. The very fact of our existence means that neither gender, nor sex, are binary systems. They contain multitudes. So, our sex designation, under Bill 2, will never match our gender designation, because there is no way to classify genitalia as non-binary. It’s a fool’s errand.

Finally, the overall thrust of Bill 2 in general is to require disclosure of something that should be private. Our identification documents should indicate the minimum information required in order to deliver respectful service to any given person. Not even doctors agree that genitalia must be indicated on ID documents that we present in public. There is no logical or scientific reason for the government to maintain oversight on the shape of our sex organs, no matter our genders. What we really need is for public servants to be taught how to not assume gender based on voice, appearance or dress. What we really need is health care workers, especially mental health workers, to receive extensive training on how to speak to trans people, intersex people, and non-binary people about our genders, bodies, and how we deal with transphobic discrimination in society. What we really need are fewer barriers to living as our full selves, without fear of discrimination and violence – not more. Bill 2 would worsen the lives of all trans, intersex, and non-binary people living in Quebec, and it cannot stand.

-R. C. W.

Here’s how to take action right now to support trans, non-binary, and intersex people living in Quebec.

1. Sign the *new* petition on the National Assembly website.

After entering your contact information and clicking “Envoyer”, you will have to confirm your signature by email. You will receive an email with a confirmation link, which you should click as soon as possible to register your signature.

2. Email your QC government representative in 1 click

Enter your information on the LGBTQ Counsel’s website, to email your QC MP about Bill 2.

3. Indicate your disapproval of Bill 2 on the National Assembly website.

The only required fields on the page are your first and last name, email address, and a multiple choice question indicating your level of support for the bill. If you wish to add more information, including comments, it might help increase the weight of your submission.

Please feel free to copy and paste any part of the text above without credit, in the comments portion of your submission. (If you’d like to quote me anywhere else, I would appreciate being asked/receiving credit.)

The “Strongly Disagree” option is the one that opposes Bill 2 in the strongest way possible. It is the option that is second from the bottom in the multiple choice question.

4. Please share this article, and the petition links, as widely as you feel comfortable.

Thank-you to Élise Anne for the French translation!

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