The Canadian province of Ontario is now allowing individuals born there to remove 'male" or "female" on their birth certificates or opt for a "nonbinary" designation.
NBC News reported Wednesday that the first known nonbinary — someone who does not identify as either male or female — birth certificate was issued on May 4 to Joshua M. Ferguson, a filmmaker who uses the plural pronouns "they" and "them." Instead of "M" or "F," the document's gender marker is listed as "X."
Ferguson, 35, told NBC News that the new policy makes clear that "nonbinary people exist," hailing it as a victory.
Ferguson first applied for a nonbinary designation on the birth certificate in May 2017, but the request was delayed. Months later Ferguson filed an application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, arguing that his rights were infringed according to the Ontario Human Rights Code. The matter was resolved last month and Ferguson received a nonbinary birth certificate last Friday.
"The policy strikes a good balance between recognizing nonbinary people with an 'X' designation, people who may not want sex markers, and the many Ontarians who don't want any changes to their birth certificates," Ferguson said.
Last summer, Canada passed legislation allowing the "X" gender option to be placed on passports.
"All Canadians should feel safe to be themselves, live according to their gender identity and express their gender as they choose," the office of Ahmed Hussen, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, said in a statement at the time.
"By introducing an 'X' gender designation in our government-issued documents, we are taking an important step toward advancing equality for all Canadians regardless of gender identity or expression."
Also last summer, a baby born in Canada was given a health card without a gender designation, making the infant the world's supposedly first "gender-free" child, a move that drew criticism from evangelist Franklin Graham. The child's parents insisted that the child did not need to be "assigned" a gender by a medical professional but would self-determine it later.
Nonbinary birth certificates have been available in three other Canadian provinces since last year and are allowed in California, Oregon, Washington state, and in Washington, D.C.
CP reported in December that those with objections to these changes on legal documents in Washington state span the political spectrum, but little time was given for public debate on the issue. Some argued at the time that this was an intentional move on the part of state bureaucrats in order to circumvent the legislative process and create the impression that everyone is on board since the hearings were inconvenient to everyone except for the activists.
"Major policy changes like this are often discussed in the middle of a work day during the holiday season when the average person is too busy to attend," said Kaeley Triller Haver, co-founder of a bipartisan coalition group that resisting efforts to replace 'sex' with 'gender identity' in the law.
"It creates a situation where they're able to say, 'Look, we invited the people to weigh in, and the overwhelming majority of people support this measure, so we're justified in advancing it.'"