With luck British Columbia will soon be far behind and will see NO genders on birth certificates.
There are three problems with gendered birth certificates. The first is that the genitalia of intersex children are ambiguous at birth - so doctors 'assign' a gender, and historically have even guessed at the gender of an intersex child and done surgery on infants to 'repair' their genitalia. Intersex people regard this as being as cruel as female genital mutilation.
The second problem is that we do not develop our gender identity- our internal sense of gender - till we are 3 or 4. Sometimes, our gender identity does not 'match' the gender we were assigned at birth, and we are saddled with a life of trying to get out from under that gender marker.
Finally, some people have gender identities which are neither male nor female, or both male and female. the m/f choice will never work for them.
In Australia, you can get a passport showing 'sex not specified' if you have had sex reassignment surgery. Germany permits the parents of intersex people to put an 'x' on their birth certificates - not a third gender, but a deferral of the gender election. Nepal has added a third gender to all citizenship and identity documents. New Zealand now allows people to state their gender as male, female or “X” (indeterminate/unspecified), without the need to change their birth certificates or citizenship records. Pakistan recognize a separate gender for Pakistan’s hijra community, which includes transgendered people, transvestites, and eunuchs. Bangladesh has extended official government recognition to people who identify as hijra, giving them the option of reflecting their gender identity in passports and other identity cards.
BC has a bill in the works which will affect birth certificates, by eliminating the requirement that trans* people have sex reassignment surgery before they can get a new birth certificate; and by making it possible for children to change the gender on their birth certificates. But disappointingly, the old M/F remains.
Harriette Cunningham is challenging the government to remove all gender markers from the birth certificate. In these days of advanced identification technologies, whether one has an M or an F on an identity document is no longer useful. I.D. now has photos, and sometimes facial recognition or fingerprint recognition technology.
Since having a gender marker predictably causes untold grief for anyone whose gender is other than M/F, there is no justification for continuing to use gender markers on birth certificates. Doctors can continue to collect their "guess" at birth about what gender a child will turn out to be, and record that on the registration of birth for anyone with a statistical interest ; but the document provided to people as proof they were born in BC does not need to show gender for any purpose.
Now is the time to write to your MLA and demand that BC fix its birth certificates properly by removing all gender markers. Go here to find your MLA's email and address. And if you are someone born in BC whose birth certificate has given you grief, contact barbara findlay at firstname.lastname@example.org about how you can help with the court challenge.