Shae Morse, a teacher and community advocate, says the province’s announcement Tuesday of extended options for gender identity on identification cards and documents is a step in the right direction. - Francis Campbell
Shae Morse, a teacher and community advocate, says the province’s announcement Tuesday of extended options for gender identity on identification cards and documents is a step in the right direction. – Francis Campbell

 

HALIFAX — Nova Scotians now have more gender-identification options on birth certificates, drivers’ licences and other documents.

“We pride ourselves on being a government that’s extremely inclusive,” Patricia Arab, minister in charge of Service Nova Scotia, said at the Tuesday morning announcement at the Halifax Regional Library.

“We want people who come here and people who live here to feel safe and know that they have a home that is truly theirs where they can be their true selves. This is just one step in providing that.”

The changes that took effect Tuesday will allow Nova Scotians to choose to have an X for gender identity or to have no gender displayed on their identification documents.

“It just finally means that I am not going to be identified as something that I am actually not,” said Shae Morse, a 33-year-old Halifax-area teacher and community advocate who has been pushing for the changes for several years.

“That’s pretty exciting and liberating. I’m really eager for that. It’s a significant change, it will improve lives of Nova Scotians who wish to access the change.”

The X identity refers to non-binary individuals who do not identify exclusively as masculine or feminine.

Arab said it is difficult to estimate how many people will take advantage of the ability to change documentation, changes that she said were introduced with support and input from the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

“We’ve had about 100 in the past year come in to ask for changes,” Arab said. “This is going to be a lot more freeing, so that those who feel that they want to make those changes will do so without any issues at all.”

Morse will make the change to an X on personal documentation as soon as possible.

“We are not looking at a large number of people,” Morse said. “For those of us who do need it, it’s very important to have that option out there.”

“There has been research that shows that having proper identification documents can be life-saving. It improves mental health outcomes, it lets people see themselves represented by the government, which is a significant thing.”

Arab said everyone she has talked to sees the changes as momentous for the province.

“It really falls in line with us being as inclusive and as safe and as welcoming as we can possibly be,” the minister said. “We are going to keep on learning and we’re going to keep on talking to our community stakeholders and making sure that this isn’t an issue that is just put on the shelf today. As people grow, as people change, as people feel more comfortable to share their stories, we are going to be there.”

Arab said the province will maintain records identifying Nova Scotians’ gender, but “on a front-facing ID card, there is no reason why you have to identify.”

Morse said pushback to the government change is real.

“When you navigate life as an out, transgender, non-binary professional, you come up against stuff all the time,” Morse said. “As soon as I’ve been out doing this community work, I’ve been targeted by others, not necessarily even from our province, but all over the world, people will seek you out and you know that they don’t agree with what you are doing. It can be really challenging.”

Nova Scotia is following the direction already taken by several provinces. The fee to change the gender indicator will be waived for replacement cards.

Change of sex indicator services are also available to people born outside of Nova Scotia who currently live in the province.

“It’s a really important step and it’s a step that allows people to question their assumptions around gender,” Morse said. “I do think that this is the beginning of a conversation, I don’t think it’s the end of a conversation. When we talk about transgender, access to bathrooms is something that we need to consider to make sure that all Nova Scotians can feel comfortable using the bathroom, because right now that’s not the case. These issues run deep. Challenging our ideas of gender is a start to that conversation.”

Source: https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/news/halifax/nova-scotians-can-now-choose-x-or-no-gender-for-id-documents-331216/?fbclid=IwAR1cVdkGMtM7vix9S6iMNfs279ajUbxbzkqpcIhFQMeoGKDr3GWL_iA-_oo#.XSXX6HqiEUk.facebook