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Human rights ruling orders Manitoba to offer gender-neutral birth certificates

Manitoba must now issue non-binary birth certificates according to a human rights tribunal decision.

Manitoba must now issue non-binary birth certificates according to a human rights tribunal decision.

The ruling stems from a complaint filed with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission after an individual, only identified as TA, was refused a gender-neutral birth certificate in 2014.

The Manitoba Human Rights Adjudication Panel said the government has 180 days to start offering new birth certificates.

TA, who is transgender, wanted to have their gender on their certificate replaced with “X.” The province now must comply.

“A new decision of the Manitoba Human Rights Adjudication Panel orders Manitoba’s Vital Statistics Agency to ensure its birth certificate documents do not discriminate against non-binary transgender individuals,” the Manitoba Human Rights Commission said.

The adjudicator who heard the case, Dan Manning, called the province’s refusal to offer a gender-neutral birth certificate on “the high end” of seriousness.

“Gender identity is a part of our concept of selfhood. The (vital statistics) director’s practice to not allow non-binary designations of sex designation and only permit male or female designations was effectively the government refusing to acknowledge TA.’s agency and personhood,” Manning said.

“The difficulties faced by trans and non-binary individuals in our society are many. Human rights tribunals have long recognized the disadvantages faced by trans people and non-binary individuals in society.”

Along with allowing for gender-neutral birth certificates from now on, Manning also ordered the province to pay TA $50,000 in compensation.

Manitoba will become the fifth province to offer gender-neutral birth certificates.

The increasing number of gender-neutral government documents has also extended to the federal government, including passports. 

At the time, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen call the move an “important step towards advancing equality for all Canadians regardless of gender identity or expression.”

Issuing gender-neutral documents is one of the measures encouraged by the now-infamous Bill C-16, a law pertaining to transgender rights and pronoun use.

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