Filmmaker Joshua M. Ferguson has reason to celebrate this week. They just received their brand-new birth certificate, complete with an “X” in the gender field. Thanks to Ferguson, Ontario birth certificates have two new options for the gender designation. In addition to M and F, there’s now “X” and the option to completely remove the designation altogether.
The 35-year-old initially filed for a non-binary birth certificate almost exactly a year ago. When the request was delayed for four months, Ferguson filed with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario saying their rights were being violated. The case was resolved last month and Ferguson received their new birth certificate.
The change to Ontario birth certificates was already in the works when Ferguson requested theirs. Provincial spokesperson Harry Malhi told the CBC in May 2017 that the province needed “to make sure we get it right for Ontarians.” And it sounds like they did. Ferguson didn’t expect the option to remove the gender designation and praised it, saying:
While I did not expressly advocate for Ontario’s second announced policy, the so-called ‘gender-neutral’ option allowing people to voluntarily apply to remove their sex marker altogether from birth certificates, this second option recognizes the diverse needs of the trans community and beyond.
I've now received my non-binary birth certificate from Ontario! It's a victory for me and the community! Service Ontario's new two-fold policy for birth certificates sets a historic precedent and is now available: https://t.co/sMabJn79Mn pic.twitter.com/KcVb7hlgNL
— Joshua M. Ferguson (@joshuamferguson) May 7, 2018
Before the change to Ontario birth certificates, the province had offered non-binary options on drivers’ licenses and health cards. Ontario becomes the third province to issue non-binary birth certificates, after the Northwest Territories and Newfoundland. And last year, the federal government announced they were working on offering gender-neutral passports as well.
In the United States, three states, California, Washington and Oregon, started issuing non-binary birth certificates this year. In January 2003, Australia started letting people designate “X” as their gender, and throughout the ’00s, India, Nepal and Pakistan followed suit. And in Germany, it was ruled the government must allow for a third gender option by 2019.