TESA supports reforms to Alberta birth certificates
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE--Thursday, April 17, 2014--ALBERTA
TESA SUPPORTS REFORMS TO ALBERTA BIRTH CERTIFICATES
The Trans Equality Society of Alberta (TESA) supports the government of Alberta in its decision to reform legislation that would make it easier for trans* people to obtain amendments to their Alberta birth certificates.
"Obtaining official, government-issued documentation is an ongoing hurdle for all trans* people," says Stephanie Shostak, a TESA board member. "As a birth certificate is the foundational document required for an individual to obtain a drivers' licence, passport, or other essential modern identity documents, the burden on trans* people to acquire and complete surgery, in addition to obtaining multiple legal affidavits attesting to such surgery, is unreasonably high."
Released just three weeks' ago, TESA's State of Trans* in Alberta: Trans Day of Visibility Report 2014 calls for the Province of Alberta to follow the lead of Ontario in allowing trans* people to change their birth documents without undergoing surgery.
At the moment, Section 30(1) of the Vital Statistics Act limits amending Alberta birth certificates to those whose "anatomical sex structure has been changed to the opposite sex from that which appears on the person's birth registration document" and also requires "an affidavit from each of 2 physicians, each affidavit stating that the anatomical sex of the person has been changed."
The province's 2012 re-listing of SRS/GRS (Sex/Gender Reassignment Surgery) reopened possibilities for trans* Albertans to obtain correct identification. However, SRS/GRS that would typically qualify as changing a person's "anatomical sex structure" results in permanent sterilisation. TESA finds it abhorrent that 42 years after the repeal of the Sexual Sterilization Act (1928) an Alberta statute still requires that a subset of Alberta's population must be sterilised to access appropriate legal identification.
TESA members began to speak out about identification problems in 2009 in the wake of the province of Alberta's 2009 de-listing of SRS/GRS. TESA's mission is to be a witness and a voice for matters concerning trans* Albertans.
"Since TESA's formation in 2009, we have spoken to the challenges trans* Albertans face accessing the same types of official documentation other Albertans take for granted. Incorrect documentation can impact all aspects of daily life in Alberta, including housing, employment, and education. Such barriers are inappropriate and easily corrected by government and institutions taking steps such as those suggested by Premier Hancock," says Shostak, referring to statements made today by the premier affirming an agreement to change the process for individuals needing to amend an Alberta birth certificate.
To date, speaking out has brought some change. For example, shortly after the 2009 delisting, improvements for the ability to change an individual's sex designation on their provincial driver's license were established. This change required drivers to "make an application in writing to the Registrar" and provide "a current letter from the applicant's psychiatrist or psychologist ... that states ... in the opinion of the psychiatrist or psychologist the change in the sex designation on the person's identification card is appropriate" (Alberta Operator Licensing and Vehicle Control Regulation, s.20(1)(a)(b)). However, any such changes were temporary and dependent upon the individual successfully completing an Alberta birth certificate amendment to remain in place.
"Making birth certificate amendments more accessible is unquestionably positive for trans* Albertans as it removes many of the structural barriers to fully participating in our society as Alberta citizens," says Shostak.
For further information, please see:
State of Trans* in Alberta: Trans Day of Visibility Report 2014
Alberta Vital Statistics Act
Alberta Operator Licensing and Vehicle Control Regulation
Alberta Sexual Sterilization Act (1928)
Ontario Human Rights Commission Policy on Preventing Discrimination because of Gender Identity and Gender Expression [Section 13.3 Identity documents]
More information about TESA can be found at www.tesaonline.org
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