Canadians reject gender-neutral birth certificates

As a number of provinces move to provide options other than male or female on birth certificates, an Angus Reid Institute poll found nearly six in ten Canadians opposed to the idea.

The poll of 1,512 Canadians conducted June 8-13 found 58 per cent of respondents opposed to plans “to issue gender-neutral birth certificates upon request,” while 42 per cent support the idea.

On the question of gender-neutral identification for those who want such ID for themselves, 52 per cent of Canadians were supportive of the idea.

Shachi Kurl, executive director of ARI, said Canadians seem to make a distinction between birth certificates and other forms of identification. She said, “there’s a sense that with a driver’s license the person is at minimum 16 and has a sense of who they are and their gender by that age.”

Last year, the NDP government in Alberta passed a law allowing non-binary options on provincial birth certificates and the Liberal government in Ontario announced that beginning next year, gender-neutral birth certificates can be requested by parents.

Meanwhile, in British Columbia, Joshua M. Ferguson, a University of British Columbia PhD. candidate who identifies as neither male nor female, is suing the province to change his birth certificate. Last November, Kori Doty, a B.C. parent, requested a genderless health card for his newborn, Searyl. In April, the province issued one displaying “U” (instead of “M” or “F”) to designate sex.

Aaron Devor, chair in transgender studies at the University of Victoria, told the Toronto Star that listing sex could lead to labeling and pigeonholing individuals into a set of stereotypical gender roles.

ARI found that a bare majority of those under 35 support gender-neutral birth certificates (52-48) but large majorities of all other groups strongly opposed (61 per cent of those 35-54 and 63 per cent of those over 55).

The poll also found opposition to gender-neutral in every province outside Atlantic Canada, with opposition highest in Saskatchewan (75 per cent) and Manitoba (65 per cent).

Men were less supportive of gender-neutral options than women, and Conservative supporters were opposed to the idea (77 per cent) more so than other party supporters, although even 53 per cent of NDP backers were opposed. Just over half (54 per cent) of Liberals supported gender-neutral birth certificates.

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