North

Transgender Yukoner's mom wants birth certificate changes without surgery

The Yukon Human Rights Commission says the Yukon Vital Statistics Act is discriminatory because transgender people can't change the sex on their birth certificate without a sex change operation.

'I shouldn't have to fight each of those fights,' says 10-year-old's mother

The transgender pride flag, known as a symbol of diversity and trans rights, was created by American Monica Helms in 1999. The Yukon Human Rights Commission say a law that requires a sex change operation before gender can be changed on birth certificates is discriminatory. (Torbak Hopper/Flickr)

The Yukon Human Rights Commission says a Yukon law that requires a sex change operation before gender can be changed on birth certificates is discriminatory.

Kelly Skookum, a Yukon mother of a transgender child, says her daughter's birth certificate misidentifies her and raises problems for her daughter's access to things such as summer camps.

Jamie Skookum, 10, lives in Carmacks. She was born James and is anatomically male, but she is a female.

"We knew there was something different about her since she was two years old," Kelly Skookum says.

Skookum says Jamie runs into problems when it comes to things like a trip to the dentist, where she could be referred to as a male. 

"It's one thing for people that are close to you to accept you, but someone shouldn't have to be judged by everybody that they run into because of the gender listed on their birth certificate." 

The Yukon Legislature recently passed a motion that involved recognizing the rights of transgender people. 

But a bill will need to be brought forward before the Yukon Vital Statistics Act is amended to allow gender changes on birth certificates without a sex-change operation.

Similar amendments have been made in other Canadian jurisdictions, such as in Manitoba, which no longer requires proof of surgery to officially change gender.

Julie Jai, acting director of the Yukon Human Rights Commission, says the Yukon Human Rights Act supersedes other Yukon laws, which is what makes the Vital Statistics Act discriminatory against transgender people.

Despite this, she says the conversation around the issue in the Yukon Legislature is a good sign.

"I think we're living in a very positive time where there's increasing recognition of all people," she said. 

Skookum says a lawsuit would likely go in her favour. 

"There's no doubt in my mind that if I went to a lawyer and fought that battle, I would win. Because it is, it goes against the Human Rights Act to treat someone like that.

"But I shouldn't have to fight each of those fights."

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