Miki Mappin discovers sex identity change creates passport hassles
Miki Mappin, 58, came to Canada from South Africa in 1959 as a boy
A Saskatoon woman hoping to travel overseas has encountered a bureaucratic nightmare related to travel documents: She is transgender and no longer identifies as a man, so updating her passport is a major hassle.
Miki Mappin, 58, came to Canada from South Africa in 1959 as a three-year-old boy and became a Canadian citizen in 1974.
In 2011, Mappin started to publicly express her chosen female gender.
Shortly after that, she began the process of converting her male-oriented identification. She went through Saskatchewan's official process for a change of name, so Michael Bantjes was converted to Miki Mappin on such ID as her driver's licence and health insurance card.
Around the same time, Mappin underwent the first of two sex reassignment surgeries.
She was also keen to visit friends in Spain, but knew her passport would need to be updated.
However, after almost two years of trying to navigate federal government officialdom, she has been told her application for a change is now in a special section of the bureaucracy and would take about two years for final processing.
"I was hoping to go back to Barcelona to visit friends and relatives there," Mappin told CBC News. "I may not be able to do that now for 24 months."
Mappin said she spent months going through bureaucratic channels to accurately change the gender information on her social insurance number, passport and citizenship certificate. However, she says, she was either given incorrect information or no information at all.
"There's absolutely no information about changing your gender on the [Citizenship and Immigration Canada] website," she said.
Sent to special unit
After enlisting the help of her member of Parliament, Mappin's latest attempt at applying for a change has made its way to what is called a Program Support Unit with the citizenship and immigration bureaucracy, where her case is under review.
On April 14, officials told her "the average processing time for this unit is 24 months."
"I feel stunned," Mappin said. "I have had kind of an emotional week. I have been crying this week."
The news about the extra delay came shortly after her most recent sex reassignment surgery.
Mappin said her sexual identity, and the contrast between her official papers and her physical presentation, affects more than just her ability to travel.
"[When] applying for a job and ... it gets to the point where they look at the ID: [potential employers are] saying, 'No, we're not going to hire you,'" she said. "It happens all the time."
Officials give general statement
CBC News contacted officials with the federal government who said they would not comment on a specific case without a signed consent from the person.
They did provide a general statement, however, about the procedure for changing official documents when there is a change in sexual identity:
"A person who has undergone gender reassignment surgery must also produce a statement from his or her surgeon confirming the gender reassignment surgery as well as a statement from an acquaintance confirming that they knew the individual prior to the surgery, and that he or she is one and the same person." - Media Relations, Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
With files from CBC's Madeline Kotzer