Transgender people in the Northwest Territories may soon be able to legally change their gender on territorial documents without proving they've had gender reassignment surgery.
N.W.T. Health and Social Services Minister Glen Abernethy told CBC News on Friday that making it easier for people to change their gender is one of a number of changes he's proposing to the Vital Statistics Act. Other changes include allowing Aboriginal fonts and the use of only a singular name on a birth certificate.
Currently, people can only change their gender on their birth certificate if they can prove they have had gender reassignment surgery.
"I know a lot of people who are excited about this," said Jacq Brasseur, co-chair of It Gets Better Yellowknife.
"I think that when we look at how far behind we are compared to the rest of the country, so many other jurisdictions have already done this. The N.W.T. has been ahead of the game before so I see this as a moment of 'let's go back to how we used to be and let's be ahead of the game.'"
Brasseur, who identifies as transgender, said forcing people to prove they've had gender reassignment surgery before allowing them to change their gender on official documents is archaic.
"What often happens is we're accused of not knowing ourselves," Brasseur said.
"I don't know how a doctor who's known me for 15 minutes knows more about my gender than I do. It's not just something that you've been thinking about for a few days. This is something that trans people have been thinking about for our entire lives."
Abernethy said he will be presenting the act's amendments in the N.W.T. legislature before the end of this sitting on June 29. He hopes for it to become law by this fall.