NDP introduces legislation on gender-neutral identification

October 19, 2016

For immediate release.

HALIFAX –The NDP tabled legislation today that would eliminate gender markers on health cards and provide the option of replacing the gender marker on driver’s licenses with an “X” instead of “M” or “F.” In addition to a person’s photograph, Nova Scotia driver’s licenses also include data such as eye colour and height to confirm a person’s identity.

“The NDP made Nova Scotia one of the first provinces to include gender identity and expression in our Human Rights Act,” said NDP Critic for Service Nova Scotia Denise Peterson-Rafuse. “Introducing gender-neutral identification documents would demonstrate a continued commitment to ensure that Nova Scotia is a leader when it comes to government action to improve the lives of trans and gender non-conforming people.”

Introducing gender-neutral identification is a move supported by local LGBTQ advocacy groups, including the Youth Project and the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action project.

“There are many people who do not fit within the male/female binary. Forcing these people to carry identity documents with a gender marker that doesn’t represent who they are is not appropriate and has the potential to lead to exclusion, harassment or even violence,” said Kate Shewan, Executive Director of the Youth Project. “The Youth Project supports this bill which will provide greater respect for all identities, reduce harassment and make peoples’ everyday lives safer and more comfortable.”

“Research shows that when people of all genders are able to see themselves authentically represented on their identification, improved health outcomes, including decreased risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts, are a result. Non-binary and Intersex Nova Scotians deserve to be acknowledged by the government,” said Áine Morse, co-chair of the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project. “This is a vital next step toward gender-inclusive systems in our province.”

This summer, Ontario stopped including sex designation on provincial health cards. Starting in 2017, Ontario will also introduce the option for gender to be unspecified on licenses and provincial identification cards. Internationally, several countries including Australia, New Zealand, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Denmark, have implemented diverse options for gender on identification documents.

“Information about a person’s gender identity is unnecessary for the purposes of certifying that they can drive a car, are eligible for health insurance, or to prove their age,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “Removing this information is a small measure on the part of government that can help guard people of diverse gender identities from harassment and discrimination.”


For more information, contact Kaley Kennedy at 902-229-6881 or kaley.kennedy@novascotia.com.