TESA says known trans* issues ignored in new Alberta legislative amendments
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE--Monday, November 24, 2014--ALBERTA, CANADA
The Trans Equality Society of Alberta (TESA) is concerned that a new omnibus bill fails to address urgent legislative concerns raised previously with the province. Earlier in the year the province acted to amend legislation in accordance with an Alberta Court of Queen's Bench ruling that declared certain requirements for trans* people to obtain amended birth certificates unconstitutional. However, the amendment made at that time did not address a number of important, interrelated legislative issues. Introduced on Tuesday, November 18, Bill 6--the Statutes Amendment Act, 2014 (No.2)--again leaves glaring inconsistencies and difficult legislative gaps for trans* Albertans.
"By passing the Statutes Amendment Act, 2014 last spring, the government made it easier for trans* Albertans to obtain an amended birth certificate as it removed a structural barrier allowing trans* Albertans to fully participate in our society as Alberta citizens," says Stephanie Shostak, a TESA board member. "Amendments to other legislation is also needed to be made to ensure consistency between enactments. The bill that was introduced on Tuesday did not bring forward these required changes. This will cause issues for trans* Albertans as official government-issued documents will likely remain inconsistent."
TESA members began to speak out about identification problems in 2009 in the wake of the province of Alberta's de-listing of SRS/GRS. The province's 2012 re-listing of SRS/GRS reopened possibilities for trans* Albertans to obtain correct identification. TESA's mission is to be a witness and a voice for matters concerning trans* Albertans.
TESA met together with former Alberta Human Services Associate Minister Sandra Jansen, Family and Community Safety in May 2014 regarding changes to the Alberta Vital Statistics Act and TESA's concerns regarding necessary changes left yet undone in both this Act and other acts, regulations, and policies. At that meeting Associate Minister Jensen was presented with TESA’s report titled Trans* Identification in Alberta: A brief analysis to Alberta Human Services which outlined these concerns.
"TESA was encouraged with the positive progress that the government has made or shown towards trans* Albertans and we were hopeful that the issues with the inconsistency between the amended Vital Statistics Act and the Traffic Safety Act that we identified to the government would have been brought forward as part of Bill 6" says Shostak. "Unfortunately, amendments to the Traffic Safety Act is not part of the Statutes Amendment Act, 2014 (No.2) and that will cause undue hardship to trans* Albertans, even those with amended birth certificates, like myself, when we go to renew our driver’s licences."
The Traffic Safety Act governs the sex designation on Alberta operator's licenses. Section 20(1) of the Regulation allows for a temporary change of sex designation provided the trans* individual can produce a letter from an accredited psychologist or psychiatrist. However, Section 20(2) notes that such a change is temporary and will revert to the original designation if the trans* individual does not happen to have completed the surgery required by the next section, Section 20(3). That next section contains the same phrasing of the unconstitutional requirements found in the overturned portion of Alberta's Vital Statistics Act, with the addition of a 90-day time limit before a permanent change to the sex designation will be accepted.
"With my amended birth certificate, I was able to obtain a proper 10-year Canadian passport and NEXUS/Global Entry card but when I go to renew my driver’s license before it expires, the current Traffic Safety Act will not accept my amended, provincially issued birth certificate," says Shostak. "Many trans* Albertans make a personal decision not to undergo SRS/GRS [Sex/Gender Reassignment Surgery] as surgery is not a requirement for trans* identity. As it was proven in Justice Burrows' ruling, the requirement for trans* people to have surgery can be successfully challenged under Sections 7 and 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."
The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench ruling by Justice Burrows in April 2014 struck down provisions of Alberta's Vital Statistics Act as unconstitutional (C.F. v. Alberta, 2014). "This ruling brought forward positive changes for trans* Albertans with the changes to the Alberta Vital Statistics Act," says Shostak. "As changes to one piece of legislation usually trigger a change to another, it's disappointing that inconsistencies that TESA identified were not brought forward. We hope that another court challenge by another Albertan does not have to be launched so that continued positive changes can occur for trans* Albertans."
For further information, please see:
Trans* Identification in Alberta: A brief analysis to Alberta Human Services (2014)
AB -- Bill 6, Statutes Amendment Act, 2014 (No. 2)
AB -- Bill 12, Statutes Amendment Act, 2014
AB -- Operator Licensing and Vehicle Control Regulation
AB -- Traffic Safety Act
AB -- Vital Statistics Act
C.F. v. Alberta (Vital Statistics), 2014 ABQB 237
Canada: Charter of Rights and Freedoms
More information about TESA can be found at www.tesaonline.org
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