Should gender be included on govt I.D.? Family of transgender 10-year-old says no

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Harriette Cunningham is ten years old and just wants a visit with grandma but to do that requires a trip over the US border and a hope that the BC govt will allow the Gender designation to be removed from birth certificates. Though Harriette identifies as a girl, her documents call her a boy.





Considering the rights of transgender children

cunningham-250.jpg

Harriete's birth certificate identifies her as Declan
Forrest Cunningham, but her family has filed the
paperwork to change her legal name to Harriette
Camille Cunningham. (Photo by Karen McKinnon)

Harriette Cunningham is a 10-year-old from Comox on Vancouver Island, who frequently visits her grandmother in the U.S. But lately the prospect of explaining herself to border officials has made Harriette anxious. She is transgender and although she presents as a little girl... her passport says she's a little boy named Declan.

British Columbia will only change the gender on birth certificates if the holder undergoes sex-reassignment surgery. Harriette is not even old enough for that and she wants B.C.'s Vital Statistics Agency to remove gender from her birth certificate entirely.

Harriette Cunningham and her grandmother Cathie Dickens joined us from Comox, B.C.

Barbara Findlay is Harriette Cunningham's lawyer and an activist focused on issues for LGBT, intersex, and queer communities. She was in Vancouver.

Now, in response to this story, the B.C. Ministry of Health Communications, speaking for the Vital Statistics Agency, sent along a statement which reads, in part:

"Currently section 27 of the Vital Statistics Act requires that surgery be performed prior to the sex being changed on an individual's birth certificate. This is significantly older legislation; the Ministry of Health is reviewing it with an aim to update it."

"In the meantime, we are working to update our policies in respect to the new B.C. Services Card and transgender people. We intend to introduce new policies this winter that will remove the barrier to changing a person's gender on the Services Card. The Services Card is replacing the CareCard as the official form of identification for health services, and can also act as an official form of identification for other government services (driver's licence, etc.)."

Filing a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal is exactly what it took to change the law in Ontario.

Christin Milloy is a trans-activist and was a member of the now disbanded Trans Lobby Group. That group was instrumental in having the law modified to allow transgender people to change their official documentation. Christin Milloy was in Toronto.

Since 2011, Australia has allowed citizens to mark an "X" for gender on their passport, rather than "M" or "F." New Zealand followed suit last year. And starting Friday, a new law in Germany allows parents of intersex infants to leave their gender "blank" on birth certificates. The law is the first of its kind in Europe.

Silvan Agius is policy director at the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association Europe. He was in Brussels.


What do you think? Should gender be included on government I.D.?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Shannon Higgins, Peter Mitton and Sujata Berry.


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