Canada advances LGBT equality by offering X gender option on passports

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      The Canadian government is taking another step in national LGBT progress. Canadians will now have a third option when identifying their gender on their passport.

      On August 24, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen announced the federal government will work towards creating an X option in the sex field on Canadian passports and other documents issued by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

      The X option will provide an alternative for those who identify as neither female (F) nor male (M).

      Beginning on August 31, IRCC will offer interim measures (until documents can be printed with the X option) to allow individuals to add to their passport that their gender should be identified as X.

      The sex field is mandatory for all travel documents according to International Civil Aviation Organization rules.

      “All Canadians should feel safe to be themselves, live according to their gender identity and express their gender as they choose," Hussen said in a statement. "By introducing an 'X' gender designation in our government-issued documents, we are taking an important step towards advancing equality for all Canadians regardless of gender identity or expression.”

      IRCC will issue further details on August 31.

      Countries that already have an X option on their passports include Australia, Denmark, Germany, Malta, New Zealand, and Pakistan, while Bangladesh, India, and Nepal offer third gender options.

      The announcement follows the passing of Bill C-16, which added gender identity and expression to the Canadian Human Rights Act. The bill was introduced by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, MP for Vancouver Granville, in May 2016, and was passed after a third reading in June of this year.

      Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar marched in the Montreal Pride parade on August 20.
      Leo Varadkar

      In other LGBT news in Canada, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marched with Ireland's first openly gay Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Fierté Montréal, or the Montreal Pride Parade, on August 20. Varadkar became Ireland's Taoiseach, or prime minister, in June.

      Although Trudeau was in B.C. during this year's Vancouver Pride parade, he did not partake in the parade as he did last year.

      However, he became the first sitting prime minister to march in the Halifax Pride Parade on July 22 and will also be the first to march in Ottawa's Capital Pride Parade, which will be held on Sunday (August 27).

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on FacebookYou can also follow the Straight's LGBT coverage on Twitter at @StraightLGBT or on Facebook.