Southern Alberta Newspapers
Human rights advocates across Alberta are praising new regulations allowing an “X” instead of a male or female designation on official documents.
Alberta driver’s licences, birth certificates, identification cards and other documentation will now provide a third choice, following similar measures by the federal government and several provinces.
Premier Rachel Notley announced the update on Friday.
“By introducing an X marker on official documents, we are responding to concerns of the community and advancing equality for all Albertans, regardless of gender identity or expression,” she said.
“This is another step forward in making sure Alberta is a province that respects, protects and advances human rights.”
In Lethbridge, a spokesperson for this month’s Lethbridge Pride Fest celebrations said people here will welcome the change.
“It’s something that people here have been asking for, hoping for, for awhile,” said Devon Hargreaves, chair of the Pride Fest organizing society.
Pride Week begins June 18 with an official flag-raising at City Hall.
A Trans crosswalk was initiated for last year’s festival, he pointed out, in recognition of how many younger people do not identify as typically male or female.
“People are realizing there’s a spectrum,” he said. “Not everyone is binary, ‘M’ or ‘F’.
“They don’t want to be regimented in that way.”
The Trans crosswalk was painted to prompt discussion of those variations, Hargreaves added.
Lethbridge has become known as “very progressive” in recognizing sexual minorities, he said – but now local groups are pointing to a provincial agency that needs to update its policies.
The Lethbridge Correctional Centre and other provincial jails are still sending prisoners to cells according to their designation at birth, he said – not how they’re living their lives today.
Lethbridge groups are calling on the Notley government to address that danger.
Other organizations also responded positively to Friday’s announcement.
“For those who identify outside the traditional male-female binary, they can’t even fill out a form, use the washroom or show ID without having their gender identity dismissed and invalidated ” said Amelia Marie Newbert, co-founder of the Skipping Stone Foundation in Calgary.
“Being limited to a “M” or “F” has meant that my citizenship hinges on something that misgenders me,” said Calgary student Quinn Nelson. “With the X marker, that burden is finally lifted.”
The change also makes it easier for Albertans to change their gender marker, officials said.
Alberta becomes the third province to offer a third marker on birth certificates and drivers’ licences, they add.
Last year, the federal government provided that option on passports and immigration documents.
Three years ago, the Alberta government added gender identity and gender expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Alberta Human Rights Act.