Under International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) rules, travelers must denote a gender on all travel documents. The ICAO allows one of three markers: F for female, M for male, or X for unspecified. However, Canada currently only offers either an M or F designation. One bill may change all that, and with it relieve a massive amount of stress on the transgender travel community.
The Canadian government is working right now to update its gender identity policies, including its travel documentation, CBC reported. While Canadians are already permitted to change their sex at any time on their passport, a third gender option may soon be permitted.
"The prime minister is very mindful of perhaps a third box or an ability to mark something other than male or female. This work is being undertaken at Passport Canada," Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said while testifying before the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee. "Individual ministers and (people) within their departments are recognizing that this bill has been introduced, that there is work that needs to continue to be taken."
The changes to travel documentation are all part of a proposed bill known as C-16, which, according to CBC, would update the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code, making it illegal to discriminate based on gender identity. Already, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to make all government-issued documents more inclusive of gender diversity.
However, not everyone agrees with the changes. Conservative Senator Don Plett told reporters after the hearing that changing the passport “isn’t a workable solution,” adding, "When you start putting other boxes in, where does that end? How many boxes are we going to put in?”
However, the justice minister is fully aware that adding a box is just the start: “Without question . . . we have work to do. Simply ticking a box of male or female doesn’t accord with the intent that is in Bill C-16,” she said, according to the Toronto Metro.
Kimberley Manning, a political science professor at Montreal's Concordia University and mother to 11-year-old Florence, who was born a boy but identifies as a girl, told CBC that this is Canada’s chance to take a leadership role internationally, especially in light of anti-transgender legislation proposals in the U.S.
"I would argue that right now, in history, Canada has an important responsibility to signal that we are not going to go down that road, and we are in effect going to show what it means to protect all of the people who reside within our borders," she said. “To me it's a no-brainer.”