A 10-year-old Comox transgender girl, Harriette Cunningham, claims that facing US-Canadian border officials as a transgender girl — when his identity and outward appearance don’t match the sex designation on his passport — gives him “undue anxiety.” The Grade 5 student and his grandmother, Cathie Dickens, who lives in Comox and spends part of each year in Palm Springs, are mailing letters to MLAs and MPs, asking for changes to official identification policy they say discriminates against transgender people. They also have a meeting scheduled with their MLA, Don McRae, who is also minister of social development.
In British Columbia, where he lives, a person must have sex reassignment surgery before he or she can change the sex designation on a B.C. Birth Record, which typically serves as a basis for other forms of identification, such as passports.
In April 2012, Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal ruled the surgery requirement to be “substantively discriminatory.”
“It perpetuates stereotypes about transgendered persons and their need to have surgery in order to live in accordance with their gender identity, among other things,” adjudicator Sheri Price wrote in her decision.
That ruling provided the basis for a policy change that, in October 2012, made Ontario the first jurisdiction in Canada to allow trans people to change their sex designation on a birth certificate without sex reassignment surgery. Now, a trans person in Ontario can apply for a new birth certificate with only a letter from a physician or psychologist.