Royal West student relieved after gender designation change

Toby Kimmelman, a student at Montreal's Royal West Academy, is one of 50 adolescents to benefit from a new Quebec law that allows teens to change their gender designation.

Bill 103 has allowed teens to make their own decisions when it comes to gender identity

When he got home from summer camp Toby Kimmelman, 13, felt 'really relieved and super happy,' to find an envelope with his new birth certificate waiting for him.

When Toby Kimmelman got home from summer camp in July, he says he felt "really relieved and super happy" to find an envelope with the approval to change his name and gender on his birth certificate waiting for him.

"It was a big relief of stress," he said.

Kimmelman, a transgender student at Montreal's Royal West Academy, is one of 50 adolescents in Quebec who benefited from Bill 103.

The law, which was passed in June, amends the Civil Code to give teens 14 or older the right to change their name and choose their designated sex.

It also gives those younger than 14 the power to change their gender designation, with parental permission.

Kimmelman was already in the process of changing his name, but the new law allowed him to do both at once.

His parents were concerned about him making such a big decision at first but now say they fully support him.

"I don't think this is a passing phase," said his mother, Sara Laimon.

"This is who he is."

With his new birth certificate, which arrived Sept. 1, the eighth-grader was able to obtain a medicare card with his new name and gender designation. He will be applying for a new passport soon.

Frustrations when travelling 

Laimon recalled being checked at the American border and the border guards were confused by Kimmelman's name and gender on his documents, calling out his previous name and embarrassing him.

"There's no way I would let him travel on his own without a revised passport," she said.

The same thing would happen at school — teachers would read out his birth name from the class list without realizing he doesn't use that name anymore.

After revealing he was transgender in one of his social media biographies, Kimmelman got mixed responses at school.

"None negative, but people aren't very educated about the topic, so people would say things that were accidentally offensive."

Educating other students

He tries to do his part to educate people and tell them what to say instead.

Kimmelman also spearheaded having a gender-neutral washroom at his high school.

When Kimmelman started at Royal West, he was using the staff washroom because he was not permitted in the boys' and did not feel comfortable in the girls', he said.

After he gave a presentation to the school's governing board on the subject, the school created a gender-neutral washroom in August.

"I feel a lot more comfortable around school, and I'm allowed to used the boys' bathroom," said Kimmelman.

"I created the gender-neutral washroom because it's open to everybody."

Kimmelman hopes the availability of that washroom will help kids who go through a similar experience.

He also plans on teaching seventh-graders about gender and sexuality through an awareness initiative with the school.