So, you've clicked this far. It means you're interested. But you have some concerns. Do these FAQ help? If not, contact us!

Why are you doing this?

A big problem with gender as an identity marker is that it “sets up” anyone whose gender marker does not in the opinion of the person reviewing it, “match” their appearance.

This impacts cisgender people who don't 'look' their gender – for example a cis woman who always gets read as a man. This impacts trans people who transition, both before and potentially after their transition. This impacts non-binary people whose gender identity is neither “M” nor “F”. Having to go to the expense and delay of changing gender is discriminatory when it shouldn't be there in the first place!

One Ontario study found that almost half of trans people who had socially transitioned did not have any government-issued ID that reflected their lived gender.

Why don't you agree with putting an “X” as a third-option?

Gender isn't a reliable identity marker. It's shouldn't be included at all.

In our current transphobic society, a third-option puts a target on the forehead of a person with an “X” gender. For example, on a passport, having an “X” puts people with this designation travelling in countries where trans people may be killed in serious danger. In Canada, we cannot rely on officials to not be transphobic when reviewing ID. Identity documents that put people in danger are completely unacceptable and a human rights issue.

Did you know that race was once listed on birth registrations? As Marcella Daye, a as Senior Policy Advisor for Canadian Human Rights Commission says, “We used to use race and religion to identify people and we don’t anymore. It’s our hope that gender will come under the same scrutiny.”

Canadian passports have had photos on them for more than 100 years: a vastly better way to tell if the person is who they say.

But aren’t those M/F’s about sex, not gender?

That’s what the government would have you believe – but identity documents are intended to be used by adults, and the M/F are gender markers. Why is it important to record on your photo ID what a doctor thought your gentitals looked like when you were born?

But how will we do research into gender (in)equality? How will we know when people are being marginalized, oppressed and disenfranchised on the basis of gender or sex?

The feminist work of analyzing and understanding the way that women, trans and genderqueer folks are marginalized by current policies and institutions needs to continue. Research into gender equality still needs to happen. We are not saying that you cannot ask someone's gender when it matters – we are saying exactly that ... ask! As one of the complainants says “Gender belongs in a census, not on a passport.”

What about Medical Care?· How will it work when I go to the doctor’s office?

Currently in BC (and probably all provinces and territories) one’s sex-assigned-at-birth is included in the medical insurance plan data base.·

That can make it difficult for example for a transwoman to get a prostrate exam – because the payment system for insured services thinks prostate exams are for “men”. Studies show many trans folks do not access medical care when it is needed because of the potential of being outed and facing discrimination.

Removing gender markers from the medical databases will mean that doctors will ask about features of your gender identity, your surgeries, and your hormones…just like they ask about every other relevant medical information.·

The result?· Care based not on what your birth certificate says, but on what you tell the doctor.· Competent care, not assumptions.

But what about making sure someone is who they say they are? Won’t this impact the integrity of ID?

Relying on birth genitalia as a way to identify adults makes no sense. To verify identity you need a stable data element – e.g. your date of birth. But gender isn’t knowable at birth, includes more than M/F, and may change!

There are many more reliable identity verifiers: photographs, fingerprints and facial recognition software, for example.


© Gender-Free I.D. Coalition 2016