Manitoba

Non-binary or no gender identifier now available for Manitoba drivers

Non-binary Manitobans can now display an X — or nothing at all — as the gender identifier on their driver's licence or identification cards.

'This is an important step forward in ensuring that all Manitobans have a choice'

The new driver's licence or identification card will be changed at no cost, MPI says. (Manitoba Public Insurance)

Manitobans can now display an X — or nothing at all — as the gender identifier on their driver's licence or identification cards.

Manitoba joins Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in becoming the only Canadian jurisdictions that offer customers the option to not display a gender marker on their licences and identification cards, while the X has largely been adopted across Canada and by international organizations, Manitoba Public Insurance said on Tuesday.

To make the changes, MPI worked with the Public Interest Law Centre, which has represented a group of non-binary individuals who approached the Manitoba Human Rights Commission with concerns about the way gender has been traditionally displayed on government identification.

"This is an important step forward in ensuring that all Manitobans have a choice in whether to display gender information on their IDs, and when they do, to ensure that the information displayed is accurate," said Allison Fenske of the law centre.

"PILC has been representing a number of concerned non-binary Manitobans who have lobbied for this change."

The province announced in April that Manitobans would also soon have the option to select a non-binary sex designation on birth and death certificates, in response to a human rights decision that ruled against the province in late 2019.

There has been no announcement of when that will take effect.

As for the driver's licence, customers who wish to change the gender identity marker will be asked to attend an MPI service centre or Autopac agent to self-declare. There is no need to provide supporting documentation for any gender marker changes, MPI said.

The new driver's licence or identification card will be changed at no cost.

The change is something that Sam MacKinnon had been fighting for for years. MacKinnon is one of five people who have filed a human rights complaint against the Manitoba government over the lack of a non-binary option on government-issued identification and documentation.

"It's really exciting to have this change finally announced today and for non-binary people to be able to access a gender marker on their driver's license that they identify with and not be forced to fit into a box that that is not accurate for them," MacKinnon said.

Sam MacKinnon spoke to CBC in 2018 about what it is like to be misgendered, while the NDP was introducing the bill to amend the province's Vital Statistics Act. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)

Being able to access a gender marker that you identify with as a non-binary person is a point of validation, they said. 

"It's affirming to be able to state who I am and not have to submit any supporting documents from health professionals or anybody outside of myself," they said.

"This is just me. I get to choose my gender marker the same way that cisgender men and women can choose their gender markers."

Manitoba is now one of three provinces in Canada to allow a blank in the gender identifier field of drivers' licences. It's an announcement that a group of gender diverse Manitoban's have been fighting for. Sam MacKinnon is one of five people who have filed a human rights complaint against the province. They join Faith Fundal to discuss what this announcement means, and what further action they want from the province to support gender diversity. 7:40

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