Yukon transgender rights moving forward, slowly

A Yukon transgender man is allowed to have 'male' on his driver's licence. Other changes to accommodate transgender people may be coming to the Yukon, albeit slowly.

Yukon's Vital Statistics Act does not allow changing sex on birth certificates without reassigment surgery

A Yukon transgender man celebrated a small victory this week. 

'I didn't want just my driver's licence changed, I wanted the policy to be changed for other trans people in the Yukon,' says Shaun LaDue. (Facebook)

Shaun LaDue, who was born a biological female, filed a human rights complaint against the territory in September because he couldn't change his sex to "male" on his Yukon driver's licence.

This week, that change was allowed and LaDue now has a driver's licence reflecting his chosen identity.

He says he hopes his fight will help pave the way for younger transgender people.

"I didn't want just my driver's license changed, I wanted the policy to be changed for other trans people in the Yukon."

That appears to be the case, as Yukon's Motor Vehicles Branch is changing its policy to allow any transgender person to do the same. The change is scheduled to come into effect in April.

No changes yet to Vital Statistics Act

Seven Canadian jurisdictions have amended their Vital Statistics Act so transgender people can change the sex on their birth certificates without having a sex reassignment surgery, but Yukon is not one of them.

"I'm not really sure what the holdup is," says Julie Jai, director of Yukon's Human Rights Commission.

Dan Cable with Yukon's justice department says it's easier to amend policy — like what the Motor Vehicle Branch is doing for driver's licences — than it is to change a law, like the Vital Statistics Act.

He says gender identity is complicated.

"People don't necessarily just identify gender as male or female, as you know there's a spectrum."

During a discussion on transgender rights in the Yukon legislature this week, Justice Minister Brad Cathers said transgender rights are evolving quickly and it takes time for the law to catch up. 

Jai says an amendment to the Vital Statistics Act in Newfoundland was recently brought about by a charter challenge to the law.

Cable says the government is actively discussing the transgender file and will continue to ensure transgender people aren't discriminated against, on a case-by-case basis.