Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Canadian Judge says law violates transgender rights

STAFF REPORTS | EDMONTON, Alberta -- A judge has ruled that a provincial law states that transgender persons must have reassignment surgery before they can change the sex on their birth certificates violates their rights is unconstitutional and can no longer enforced.
Alberta Justice Brian Burrows issued his opinion Wednesday, in the case of a 23-year-old transgender woman who filed the legal challenge to the law, a week after Alberta Premier Dave Hancock announced changes will be made to the Vital Statistics Act that the surgery requirement will be dropped.
“Transgendered persons encounter disadvantage, prejudice, stereotyping and vulnerability because their felt sex is not the sex recorded at birth,” he wrote in his decision.
He said the law, as it stands, contributes to the prejudice.
“When asked, at the presentation of this application, how it could possibly matter that a person born male, but who has transitioned and lives female, have a birth certificate that says they are female, counsel for Alberta could offer no answer.”
He then ordered the government to issue a new birth certificate to the woman within thirty days.
A spokeswoman with Service Alberta, Jessica Johnson, told The Canadian Press that said the Burrows’ ruling will be respected and the woman will receive a new birth certificate by the judge’s deadline.
When asked about the legislation removing the surgical requirement, Johnson said details of the new legislation are still being worked out.
Human rights complaints have been filed in at least four provinces — Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia — calling for changes to such laws.
In British Columbia, a bill was recently introduced that would remove the condition that a person must first have sex reassignment surgery. It would also allow children, with parental consent, to switch the sex listed on their birth certificates.
In 2012, Ontario’s human rights tribunal declared it discriminatory to require surgery for a transgender woman who wanted to switch to female from male on her birth certificate. The province revised its legislation to allow a change with a note from a doctor or psychologist, but set an age limit of at least 18.