This week we celebrate Transgender Awareness Week. It is a time for people and organizations to come together to help raise the visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming people in our communities. A time to foster an awareness of the issues facing transgender people, to provide public education and information about gender diversity, and to celebrate achievements.
One such achievement occurred earlier this week when the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan passed an amendment to The Vital Statics Act,2009 which allows for the removal of gender markers on birth certificates.
“Enabling any person to request a birth certificate without a sex designation, is a significant step toward making Saskatchewan inclusive of all, and especially for trans, gender diverse, and non-binary people,” said Rachel Loewen Walker, executive director of OUT Saskatoon. “November, 20th, Trans Day of Remembrance, is a day to acknowledge, celebrate, and remember the many hands that brought us to this day and especially those who lent their hands, but were not able to see their fight realized. This powerful step forward is for them."
The amendment complies with a Court of Queen’s Bench order from May 2018. An order that was issued in response to two human rights complaints filed with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission — one in 2014 and the other in 2017.
The Commission applied to the Court for a hearing on behalf of the complainants, and argued that portions of existing legislation — The Vital Statistics Act, 2009 — were contrary to section 12 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.
Section 12 of the Code states that no person or group can be denied accommodation, services, or facilities based on prohibited grounds — in this case, the grounds of sex and gender identity.
The province admitted that sections 31 and 65 of The Vital Statistics Act did, in fact, breach The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, and was ordered by the Court to remedy these breaches.
Bill No. 146 — The Vital Statistics Amendment Act, 2018, was passed on November 13, 2018, and is now waiting royal assent.