skpic forsberg

Fran Forsberg says her child, Renn, has identified as a girl since the youngster was three years old. (Bonnie Allen/CBC)

A recent move by the Alberta government to allow transgender children to switch the sex listed on their birth certificates is being applauded by a Saskatchewan mother who is lobbying for a similar change.

"For them to do this pro-actively is phenomenal. I wish our premier would do the same," Fran Forsberg told CBC News.

"I don't know why Saskatchewan always seems to be the last to follow suit."

In Edmonton, 12-year-old Wren Kauffman, who was born with female genitalia, was recently granted a new birth certificate that recognizes him as male, a first for a child in Alberta following a landmark ruling.

Prior to the ruling that struck down Alberta's law, the province — like Saskatchewan — required that a transgender person undergo sex reassignment surgery in order to change the sex on his or her birth certificate.  

However, in April, Alberta's Premier Dave Hancock revealed that the surgery requirement would be dropped from the Vital Statistics Act. He made the announcement a week before a human rights tribunal judge ruled that Alberta's law violated the rights of transgender people.

Saskatoon case similar to Edmonton one

In Saskatoon, Fran Forsberg filed a similar complaint to the province's Human Rights Commission on behalf of her six year-old daughter, Renn, after the Vital Statistics Agency refused to change Renn's sex designation from "Male" to "Female" on her birth records.

Renn was born with male genitalia but has identified as a girl since she was three.

Forsberg submitted reports from a physician and psychologist confirming Renn's gender identity. According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, children establish their gender identity between 18 to 30 months.

"I would like for people to be able to self-identify," Forsberg said.

Concerns about confusion, discrimination

Forsberg argues that sex markers aren't necessary on identification documents such as birth certificates, driver's licences, or passports, and that when the M or F doesn't match one's physical presentation, it triggers confusion and discrimination.

In response, Saskatchewan's Minister of Justice Gord Wyant reiterated his earlier position Wednesday in the following statement to CBC News:  

"The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission is still considering the complaint. We await the outcome of the Commission’s work. We haven’t been given a timeline by the Commission."

In 2012, the government of Ontario changed its legislation to remove the surgery requirement after a Human Rights Tribunal ruled that it was discriminatory.

Rule change applies to adults 

While this was celebrated as the first legislation of its kind in Canada, many aren't satisfied because it doesn't apply to children under 18 and a person must still present a doctor's note that verifies their gender identity.  

A recently introduced bill in British Columbia would allow children, with parental consent, to switch the sex listed on their birth certificates.

"I don't want to wait anymore. There are children who are suffering," Forsberg said. "We need to change it now."
 

Bonnie Allen