A B.C. Supreme Court constitutional lawsuit filed by a Vancouver transgender engineer wants the provincial and federal governments to make changing a person’s identification documents easier.
A July 7 notice of civil claim said the ability to easily change government identity documents is a key part of affirming transgender, non-binary and other gender diverse (TNBGD) people’s identity.
“For TNBGD people, being properly gendered by service providers they are required to deal with is a critical part of their ability to participate with dignity in economic, social, political and cultural life,” said the claim filed by lawyer Dustin Klaudt.
The claim said neither Canada nor B.C. have recognized that affirmation through a relaxation of ID change regimes.
“Despite several restrictions on government ID and gender marker changes being relaxed in recent years,” the claim said, “the processes for these changes remain onerous, financially and administratively, and remain a practical barrier that too many TNBGD persons cannot overcome to realize gender affirmation and avoid the negative consequences of misidentification of gender identity and expression by government IDs.”
Named as defendants in the case, brought by the engineer known only in documents as A.B., are the federal and provincial attorneys general.
Kelli Paddon, B.C.’s parliamentary secretary for gender equity, told Glacier Media the province continues with initiatives in which people can self-disclose gender identity.
The claim defines transgender people as those who gender identity does not align with their birth sex.
It defines non-binary people as those who don’t identify with the male/female gender binary.
“Some are both male and female, some are neither, and some are in between,” the court documents stated.
Further, the claim said misgendering means using wrong gender markers or pronouns or title to refer to a TNBGD person.
It noted “deadnaming” involves the use of a name a person no longer uses to identify themselves.
“Misgendering or deadnaming may also be acts of outing a transgender or gender diverse individual,” the claim said. “Outing refers to intentional or accidental revealing of someone’s gender identity, sexual orientation or sex assigned at birth without their consent.”
What A.B. is challenging with the suit is fees for registration, name and gender marker changes. This includes documents such as:
- ID certificates;
- citizenship IDs;
- birth certificates;
- marriage certificates;
- drivers’ licences;
- B.C. service cards
- refugee protection documents;
- Indigenous status cards;
- Nexus cards and, among others;
- firearms licences.
Indirect fees could include those for fingerprinting, police clearances, records searches and doctors’ notes, among others.
The claim asserts each ID barrier is a contravention of charter rights to life, liberty and security of the person; equality; and privacy and human dignity.
Court documents said A.B. is the correct person to bring the claim forward as she has experienced many of the barriers herself. The claim contains multiple examples of that.
Paddon said each person knows their own gender best, which is why B.C. made changes in 2022 to make it easier for people changing their gender on B.C. government ID.
“We have also introduced the option for genderless birth certificates and new gender and sex data standards because it’s important that all British Columbians be able to self-disclose their gender information in a way that best reflects who they are and what they are comfortable sharing,” Paddon said.
“These initiatives build on the inclusion of a third gender option for gender on government ID and our continued commitment to making this government, its services and the province increasingly accessible for people of all genders,” Paddon said.
The federal Department of Justice said it is reviewing the claim and would respond in due course.
"The government of Canada is committed to a diverse and inclusive Canada, where all people can live freely, regardless of gender identity or expression, sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age or mental or physical disability," department spokesman Ian McLeod said.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.