Gender-neutral birth certificates could be issued to those who want them in Ontario as early as next year, provided the province can work out bureaucratic hurdles involving other governments.
Ontario's minister of government and consumer services says consultations will be held on the matter this summer and the province is working to ensure a gender-neutral birth certificate would be legally recognized in other jurisdictions.
Tracy MacCharles says she's hopeful Ontario can issue gender-neutral birth certificates by 2018.
She says she's been closely following the story of Joshua M. Ferguson, an Ontario-born filmmaker who identifies as neither male nor female and has applied to have a change of sex designation on their birth certificate from male to non-binary — a term used to define someone who doesn't identify with either gender.
Ferguson uses the pronouns they, them and their to reflect gender identity as a non-binary trans person.
CBC Toronto was the first to share Ferguson's story, and on Thursday, they praised MPP Cheri DiNovo for pushing for a non-binary birth certificate option during question period at Queen's Park.
"I know that in Ontario, gender identity and gender expression is protected from discrimination and I have a legal right to receive my non-binary birth certificate... I remain hopeful that the government will approve my application this summer," Ferguson says.
MacCharles says she knows the issue is important to the trans and non-binary community.
Currently, Ontario offers gender-neutral options for drivers' licenses and health cards but not for birth certificates.
"I cannot change any other forms of identification without first changing my birth certificate," says Ferguson, who lives in Vancouver and is also a writer and activist.
The 34-year-old has submitted a physician's letter along with the application to confirm that the sex on their current birth certificate does not match their gender identity.
Last month, activist Gemma Hickey applied for a non-binary birth certificate in Newfoundland and Labrador, but no decision has been announced.