From 31 August, Canadian passport holders will have a third option for identifying their gender: “M” for male, “F” for female or “X” for unspecified.
Canadian officials said the change is meant to offer transgender individuals the option to accurately describe their gender identity without being forced to identify as their birth gender.
“All Canadians should feel safe to be themselves, live according to their gender identity and express their gender as they choose,” Canadian Minister of Refugees, Immigration and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen said in a statement published 24 August.
“By introducing an ‘X’ gender designation in our government-issued documents, we are taking an important step towards advancing equality for all Canadians regardless of gender identity or expression.”
The decision makes Canada the ninth country in the world to offer a third category for gender identification on passports, according to the LGBT rights group Lambda Legal.
Other nations that offer their citizens similar options include Australia, Bangladesh, Germany, India, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand and Pakistan.
In the United States, all federal forms require citizens to identify either as a man or woman. And of recent, President Trump banned transgender people from joining the military.
The Full statement by Canadian Immigration:
August 24, 2017 – Ottawa, ON – As Canadians, we know that protecting and promoting fundamental human rights is an imperative for governments and individuals alike. This includes gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.
The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced that the Government of Canada will be working to implement an “X” gender designation in Canadian passports, as well as other documents issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to support LGBTQ2 rights and advance the Government’s agenda on gender equality, diversity and inclusion. An “X” will make it easier for people who do not identify as female (“F”) or male (“M”) to acquire passports and other government-issued documents that better reflect their gender identity.
Starting August 31, 2017, IRCC will be the first Government of Canada department to introduce interim measures, which include allowing individuals to add an observation to their passport stating their sex should be identified as “X,” indicating that it is unspecified. Interim measures will be available until IRCC is able to print documents with an “X.”
Today’s announcement follows steps to protect Canadians in their right to the gender identity of their choice, and freedom of gender expression. Earlier this summer, Bill C-16 amended the Canadian Human Rights Act and added gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.
In the coming months, the Government of Canada will continue this important work in developing a consistent federal approach to how its programs and services collect, use and display sex and gender information so Canadians can have their gender more accurately reflected in government documents while also protecting their privacy. Our government is committed to better reflecting the gender identity and gender diversity of Canadians.
“All Canadians should feel safe to be themselves, live according to their gender identity and express their gender as they choose. By introducing an “X” gender designation in our government-issued documents, we are taking an important step towards advancing equality for all Canadians regardless of gender identity or expression.”
– The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.