Bill 2: Genitalia-based Sex Markers
On Thursday, October 21st, Quebec Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette proposed a new legislation named “Bill 2” in response to Quebec Supreme Court Judge Gregory Moore’s rule to amend Bill 71.
Bill 71 was adopted in 2015 and it allowed transgendered and non-binary individuals to designate their own gender identity on their birth certificates to ensure that they are identified correctly on health-care cards, drivers’ licenses, and other provincial IDs. In January 2021, Quebec Supreme Court Judge Gregory Moore ruled to amend Bill 71 to allow non-binary people to obtain a third, neutral legal gender called “X” instead of “F” and “M”.
Bill 2 is the CAQ Government’s response to Moore’s court judgement. This Bill states that if an individual wishes to change the sex on their birth certificate, they must undergo gender affirming surgery and this surgery must be confirmed by a certified doctor who did not take part in the procedure. It is important to mention that surgery has not been a requirement to change a person’s sex designation on birth certificates since 2015.
In a nutshell, Bill 2 mandates that birth certificates would now have one’s gender marker as well as a marker for their “biological sex”. For reference, sex and gender are two different concepts. Sex refers to the sex assigned at birth and is based on a person’s reproductive system. Gender refers to the gender that a person internally feels and/or the gender a person publicly expresses in their daily life.
For example, a cis woman, a person whose gender identity is the same as their sex assigned at birth, would have an “F” gender, and an “F” sex on her birth certificate indicating that she has a vagina and identifies as a woman. A trans man who has not had surgery would have “M” for gender and “F” for sex on his birth certificate. This can lead to major psychological and identity issues.
Herein lies the problem with Bill 2. For intersex people, their genitals may not conform to what the CAQ classifies as a “vagina” or “penis”. For non-binary people (gender identities that are neither male nor female), the “X” option would essentially “out” them.
Bill 2 has been criticized by activists as the “most transphobic bill ever proposed in Quebec and Canada” and has been slammed as “regressive” and “an affront on the rights of trans people.” The Centre for Gender Advocacy -- an independent, student-funded, Concordia University organization, mandated to promote gender equality, denounced the bill on Instagram and vowed to fight it.
According to Etcetera, Dawson College's LGBTQ2+ Association: "Possibly outing someone as transgender simply because they either do not have the means to fully medically transition or the desire to fully medically transition puts transgender people into excess unnecessary danger." They added that this bill essentially “outs a trans person to a possibly hostile environment.”
Echoing Etcetera’s sentiments, Mona Greenbaum, the executive director of the LGBTIQ+ Family Coalition says the bill could “expose transgender people to discrimination,” it can force some to “reveal information they're not ready to share,” and it can have a “dangerous effect on their self-esteem.”
Florence Ashley, also known as user @ButNotTheCity on social media, is a Montreal trans-rights activist and doctorate in law student at the University of Toronto. Ashley revealed that this Bill is “really disheartening," and if this bill is passed, it will have the “the dubious honour of being the most transphobic law in Canadian history.”
Justice Minister Jolin-Barrette continues to defend the proposed legislation but says he is open to hearing other points of view.
The bill will be subject to public consultation before it gets passed.
Read the full bill:
Bill 2, An Act respecting family law reform with regard to filiation and amending the Civil Code in relation to personality rights and civil status