Quebec implements ‘X’ gender marker on driver’s licences, health cards

“Essential,” says trans activist Celeste Trianon as the Quebec government recently approved the use of the letter X as a gender marker on driver’s licences and health cards to reflect the identity of trans and non-binary people. Swidda Rassy report.

In a turn of events, the Quebec government has approved the use of gender markers that reflect the identity of trans and non-binary people on provincial driver’s licences and health insurance cards.

In a statement to CityNews, the office of Quebec Family Minister Suzanne Roy says that given the consensus reached and shared by the province’s gender identity committee, the provincial government agrees that the X marker can now be added to health insurance cards and driver’s licenses.

Both Quebec’s automobile insurance board and its public health insurance board later confirmed they’d been informed of the government’s decision to add a third-gender option to the government ID cards.

In December 2023, the Quebec government had said that transgender and non-binary people in the province who wish to have their documented gender markers reflect their identity will have to wait until a new gender identity committee files its report in winter 2025.

Since 2022, trans and non-binary people in Quebec have been able to legally obtain the letter X rather than M or F on their civil status documents such as birth or marriage certificates, but not health-care cards or driver’s licences.

For trans activist, Celeste Trianon, the news is long overdue but still welcoming.

“I know it doesn’t sound essential to many of us but for those of us who need it, it’s essential,” said Trianon.

“At the same time also, it’s a question of dignity for other trans and non-binary people.”

In December 2023, the Family Minister announced a three-person advisory committee on gender identity. The committee’s goals include developing an information base, creating a forum to inform future government decisions, and reducing social tensions.

“Well, first and foremost, from a legal perspective, there’s already been a judgment front of three years ago, which has found that the lack of X markers on birth certificates violates both the Quebec Charter and the Canadian Charter. So, already there’s a very compelling legal argument here to say that it’s not going to stand when it comes to ID cards, which are the fact that the things that you’re going to present to pre-existing identity,” said Traianon.

The Conseil québécois LGBT, a federation of 70 organizations supporting trans and non-binary individuals, works with the committee to collaborate on these efforts.

Education Minister Bernard Drainville proposed the creation of a committee to examine gender identity issues in Quebec in September 2023. This came after he requested a school in western Quebec to back down on its decision to implement gender-neutral washrooms.

The health insurance board, known as the RAMQ, said it learned of the decision by the province’s families minister Monday morning and planned to immediately begin work to make the change.

“RAMQ welcomes this decision, which will help meet the needs expressed by some of its customers,” a spokesperson wrote in an email. “We will work as of today to establish a precise timetable in collaboration with our various partners to implement this decision.”

Both the RAMQ and the auto insurance board, or the SAAQ, said clients who have requested a non-binary marker on their cards would be contacted shortly to discuss the next steps in the process.

The Family Minister’s office tells CityNews that the province’s gender identity committee will keep working on issues impacting society broadly, including education, health, sports, and public safety.

Trianon says she hopes all ministries follow suite.

“It’s essential that this is something that settled all across governments and not just for certain ministries because otherwise it’s just going to create more inconsistencies and more discrimination.”

The policy change comes after years of efforts by advocates, including a non-binary Montrealer who undertook a hunger strike outside RAMQ offices in Quebec City last year.

-With files from the Canadian Press

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