Quebec has amended a prospective bill that would have required trans and non-binary people to undergo gender reconstructive surgery in order to change their sex on official documents. Originally introduced in October with the intention of reforming aspects of family law, the legislation, dubbed Bill 2, previously included controversial articles regarding the definition of gender identity and sex.
“Overall, the bill—with the amendments—relieves so many of our community concerns, and it brings Quebec back to parity with other Canadian provinces,” Celeste Trianon, a trans rights advocate and public educator at the Centre for Gender Advocacy, tells Xtra in a phone interview.
As originally drafted, Bill 2 required pre-op trans people who updated their gender markers to list both a “sex” and a “gender” on their IDs. The new amendments, which were announced by Minister of Justice Simon Jolin-Barrette on May 9, remove this guideline following criticism from LGBTQ2S+ advocates who argued that it could lead to trans people being outed when they present identification.
If passed, the initial bill would also have contradicted the province’s 2015 decision to scrap a former rule requiring individuals to undergo medical treatment in order to change the sex designation on their birth certificates.
According to Trianon, there remain many issues with the amended bill, including the potential for lawmakers to change how gender and sex are noted in the future and the possibility that new parental designations may end up conflicting with other ID documents, again raising the issue of forced outings that the original bill was criticized for. Trianon hopes the bill could still be updated to address these concerns.
“If you change your name legally, your name on your children’s birth certificate will change,” Trianon says. “So why is that not the case for change of parental designation? It makes no sense.”
Many are also concerned as to whether the reforms will be accessible for LGBTQ2S+ Canadians, who are disproportionately likely to be facing poverty. The new bill requires people who request a gender-marker change to pay a $148 fee. Quebec is home to Canada’s third-largest trans and non-binary population, according to recent census data, and a 2020 Trans Pulse Canada study found that 29 percent of trans and non-binary Quebecers aged 25 and up earn less than $15,000 a year.
It’s already difficult for individuals whose gender performance does not match their sex designation to find employment, and their inability to afford these costs traps them in a “negative feedback loop,” Trianon says. Meanwhile, intersex people do not have to pay to get an updated birth certificate but may fear having to “prove” their intersex status, citing privacy concerns.
The requirement for people who change their gender marker more than once to consult a health or social services professional is also cause for concern, as transitioning is often a “non-linear transition process,” she adds.
“Overall, transitioning should be a process that is accessible,” Trianon says. “It’s about our autonomy, a fundamental question about who we are as people.”