New gender option available on Alberta ID cards

Albertans have a new option when in comes to listing their gender on provincial documents and identification.

Albertans aged 12 and older can choose X if they don't identify as male or female

Premier Rachel Notley on Friday announced a new gender option for Alberta-issued documents and identification. (Alberta Government)

Albertans have a new option when in comes to identifying their gender on provincial documents and identification.

An X has been added to the gender choices of M and F — male or female — on driver's licences, identification cards and vital statistics records such as birth and death certificates.

Premier Rachel Notley was on hand for Friday's announcement at the Strathcona Registry, which was decked out in rainbow colours for the event.

"It should be a relatively simple process," said Notley. "We look forward to being able to work with Albertans to have their ID reflect their own sense of who they are."

The new gender option is available for Albertans of all ages.

Adults can simply request a change, while youths aged 12 to 18 can have their gender identifier changed as long as they have parental consent.

For children under age 12, the X option is also available. Parents choose it on their child's behalf; in these cases, the application requires a supporting letter from a medical professional, says a government spokesperson.

"For anyone over 18, there's no need to have any kind of medical documentation or whatever, they can just go into their registry and request the change," said Notley. "For anyone between 12 and 18, they will need the consent of a parent."

Calgary student Quinn Nelson is grateful for the change.

"It can be difficult to explain how a single letter printed on a plastic card in my wallet can feel like a burden," said Nelson, who identifies as non-binary, a term used by those whose identities do not fit into a strictly male/female binary. 

"The meaning that people read into those little marks on little rectangles is abundant. The issue isn't what our IDs think of us, it's what people think of us based on our IDs, and problems arise with people when identity documents fail to actually document our identities."

Alberta fourth province to offer this option

Many non-binary people consider the label as relating to both an individual's sex, or biological anatomy, and their gender, a personal, internal awareness of one's identity that may or may not align with one's sex.

"There are the double takes and occasional eyebrow raises that I get and that is annoying," Nelson said. "But there's also the fear every time I show my ID, that it's legitimacy will be questioned."

Nelson is thrilled to have an ID that provides an agreeable alternative.

Scott Mather, president of the Strathcona Registry, said there will be no judgment passed or explanation required for individuals requesting a change.

"To Quinn and all the strong and proud gender-diverse people of Alberta, I'd like to say that we are here to serve you and support you and anyone who wants to change their marker," Mather said.

"Unfortunately, Quinn, we can't help you with your speeding tickets, you're going to have to pay those yourself."

Alberta becomes the fourth other Canadian province to offer a gender option other than male or female, following Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the N.W.T.

Canadians can also choose "X" as their gender on passports.