Quebec officially backtracking on surgery rule for trans people's birth certificates

A transgender flag is seen painted on a sidewalk in this file photo. (Pexels)

Quebecers who begin the process of legally changing their sex on official documents will not first have to undergo surgery to modify their genitals, the province says.

The detailed study of Bill 2, a bill first introduced last fall that contains sweeping reforms of many aspects of family law, began on Tuesday with the backtrack announced by Minister of Justice Simon Jolin-Barrette on gender identity and sex, which had caused an outcry.

In his opening remarks, the minister confirmed that new amendments will modify controversial articles included in the original bill as it was tabled on Oct. 21.

It removes from the law the requirement that a person must undergo genital surgery in order to change their sex designation on official state documents.

In the original proposal around birth certificates, there were supposed to be two pieces of information, sex and gender, which could be distinct from each other -- which raised the ire of the LGBTQ community, who said that would force transgender people to "out" themselves unnecessarily.

"We come today with concrete solutions to the concerns you have raised," Jolin-Barrette said at the outset of his speech, addressing members of the LGBTQ community.

He began a detailed discussion of the bill, a hefty and complex 116-page document containing more than 360 articles on various sensitive topics, including sex and gender identity, as well as surrogate pregnancy and many other topics.

"The surgery requirement for a sex designation change will be completely removed" from Bill 2, the minister confirmed.

In the end, there will be only one entry on the civil status documents, in order to avoid "situations of unwanted disclosure," he said.

There are only four weeks of parliamentary work left in the session to study and adopt this bill, which normally would require months of work, given its complexity and scope.

Elected officials will therefore have to work hard to get the revisions done during the current mandate. 

Bill 2 casts a wide net and deals with several subjects, including the recognition of non-binary persons and parents, the supervision of surrogate mothers, the rules of parental recognition, the presumption of paternity for de facto spouses, family violence and parental deprivation, information disclosed to adopted children, and the rights of the child born of a surrogate mother to know its origins.

This report was first published in French by The Canadian Press on May 10, 2022.

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