As Pride Month came to an end, the Ontario government released some extraordinary news — a person will no longer have to indicate their gender on health cards or drivers licences.
Identification is a contentious issue for the LGBTQ community. Imagine representing and identifying as a specific gender (or gender-neutral) and not having your official government document label you as such? And why should people care what gender you are anyway? Will it make it easier to see a doctor if you are a woman instead of a man? Will a man get a ticket for speeding any more than a woman? If the answer to any of these questions is a yes — well, Ontario has a much bigger problem, doesn’t it?
The provincial government has finally clued in. As of — well now — Ontario health cards will no longer display information about a person’s gender. This decision has been active since June 13.
“The purpose of health cards is to show that the card holder is eligible for public health care. A person’s sex is not relevant,” said Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long Term Care, in a statement. “Ensuring that all people in Ontario feel comfortable and safe is especially important in health care settings, and removing sex designation from health cards is a step towards achieving that.”
It will take a bit longer to integrate driver’s licences into the system. But, Ontario is determined that by 2017, drivers be given the option to display an ‘X’ on their cards if they choose not to be identified exclusively as male or female.
Now that ID cards have been taken care of, what about government forms? This summer, Ontario will be launching public and stakeholder consultations to develop policy on the collection and use of sex and gender information.
“Many Ontarians do not identify as female or male. As society’s understanding of gender evolves, government must adapt. Part of that is being more thoughtful about how and when we collect gender or sex information, and how we use it,” said Minister of Government and Consumer Services, Marie-France Lalonde.
These are small steps, but they are also indicative of a government’s willingness to be inclusive and provide choice. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the media that the federal government is now considering the same gender-neutrality in identification documents. Who knows? Maybe the Canadian passport is next?
People who want a health card without a gender identifier before its renewal date can call 1-866-532-3161 or visit a ServiceOntario centre. There is no fee.