Introducing Canada’s Gender Neutral Passports
Canada has been a leading country in gender equality rights. The country has most recently taken on the issue of sex vs. gender in an “all-new passport option.” As of August 31st, Canadian passport holders will no longer be required to identify themselves between male and female. Individuals will have the option to choose “X” as an “unspecified” gender identification.
“All Canadians should feel safe to be themselves, live according to their gender identity and express their gender as they choose,” Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s Minister of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship, said. “By introducing an ‘X’ gender designation in our government-issued documents, we are taking an important step towards advancing equality for all Canadians regardless of gender identity or expression.”
The World Health Organization also stated on the subject, “Gender is used to describe the characteristics of women and men that are socially constructed, while sex refers to those that are biologically determined. People are born female or male, but learn to be girls and boys who grow into women and men. This learned behavior makes up gender identity and determines gender roles.”
Although this opens a great door for those Canadians who do not identify as a gender, it could cause issues for those who identify as Gender X when traveling to some international destinations. “I’m really worried that in countries like Uganda and Jamaica, where being LGBT is illegal and there are laws on the book that prosecute people for identifying as trans, that this could leave people open to arbitrary detention, it could leave them open to scrutiny at airports, degrading treatment,” said an immigration lawyer out of Toronto. “There’s a whole host of actions that foreign law enforcement could take; I think if you have an X on your passport.”
This is not the first step Canada has taken to ensure and protect the rights of LGBT travelers. In May 2017, Bardish Chagger, the minister of small business and tourism, announced that the Canadian government would be partnering with Travel Gay Canada and allocate $100,000 over two years for Canada to advertise themselves as a gay-friendly travel destination. “Canada is already one of the most welcoming countries in the world for LGBTQ2 travel, and we want to build on that reputation,” said Minister Chagger. “I am proud to work with Travel Gay Canada and businesses like OWL Rafting, who are breaking barriers and helping to create memorable experiences and visits for everyone.”
For many years Canada has been protecting the LGBT community. The country has recognized the validity of same-sex relationships and considered them on equal par with more traditional family unions. Now, you will see Canada breaking barriers by allowing those who wish to obtain a Canadian passport not have to identify as either male or female. We expect many other LGBT friendly countries to follow Canada’s example.
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