Transgender activist Kyra Rees wins court battle over IDs
'It's really liberating,' Rees says
The Newfoundland and Labrador government will change the Vital Statistics Act to allow transgender people to change their birth certificate and government identification to match their gender identity.
The change comes after transgender activist Kyra Rees in St. John's took the provincial government to court in a battle to get her birth certificate to reflect the gender she identifies with.
"[I'm] overwhelmed, but in such a good way," said Rees outside the Supreme Courthouse Wednesday morning.
"It's really great that the government seems to be in agreement — at least with our argument — and they're going to commit to changing it. Changing it not just for me but for all transpeople."
With legislative changes, Rees and other transgender people can go out in public without fear of 'outing' themselves because of the gender marker on their identification cards.
"Anytime I had to present the ID, I had to kind of 'out' myself as a transperson and someone would know my gender from looking at that identify document," she said.
"There was definitely this social anxiety thing that really was the biggest chunk of it and also, of course, my safety."
Gerry Rogers, NDP MHA for St. John's Centre, said she will speak with the minister of Service NL to determine what measures can be taken in the interim.
"It gives us one more reason to celebrate Pride, gives one more reason to show why Pride Week is so very important because there's so much work to do."
Currently, the provincial law permits changing the sex designation on a birth certificate only if the person undergoes gender reassignment surgery.
Rees filed an application with the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms last November, asking that the legislation be changed.
Similar changes have been made in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba.
Changes will be made to the act during the next session of the House of Assembly.
Rees is urging the province to convene a fall sitting in the House of Assembly so that there is no delay in passing the legislation.
With files from Carolyn Stokes