In recent months, countless lawmakers and government officials in the United States have found themselves mired in debates and discussions as to the appropriate use of gender specific bathrooms and other issues related to the LGBTQ community. In Canada, however, the government seems intent on going a very different route than their southernly neighbor. The Canadian government, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, recently forged ahead in regards to enacting progressive gender and sexual identity legislation. Such policies have gone a long way towards addressing the many serious concerns of LGBTQ Canadians and moving the nation and public policy towards equality for all.
New "X" Designation
On August 31st, Canada began offering a gender neutral option to citizens applying for passports. For the first time the country's federal government approved a plan in which citizens will now be legally allowed to choose a gender neutral option on their forms. Residents will no longer be required to choose between either male (m) or female (f) designations but will now be able to pick a third option known simply as x.
Many Canadian provinces have also started offering a gender neutral option on their provincial documents. Included in those provinces which currently provide such an option is the Northwest Territories. This large Canadian territory now offers gender neutral options on its birth certificates. In Canada's most populous province, Ontario, health cards and driver's licenses are currently available with gender neutral designations.
Activists and those in the LGBT community have welcomed the Canadian government's adoption of gender neutral documents. Most people feel that it's a step in the right direction in regards to eliminating transphobia. At the very least measures such as the introduction of Canada's gender neutral passports helps to bring much needed attention to issues facing non-binary and/or trans individuals in Canada.
The Importance of Having a Passport
In order to apply for a Canadian passport all legal residents must provide their official Canadian birth certificate, a document proving their identity, as well as two photos. A valid passport not only provides the holder with proof of identity but also allows them to legally exit and enter Canada.
Despite such progressive legislation, some people have raised concerns over possible problems which could arise overseas due to the new gender x distinction. This is a particular concern in terms of how foreign officials and even airport staff in other countries will choose to address and deal with the new option. There are also legitimate concerns surrounding the question if Canada' s new gender x designation would be legally binding or even recognized in other countries around the world.
By providing its citizens with a gender neutral option Canada has joined other nations including India, Nepal, Pakistan, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, and Bangladesh as the only countries in the world who are currently issuing gender neutral passports.