Earlier this week, the federal government settled a landmark human rights case that could spell the end of “M/F” on everything from your driver’s license to your passport.
Christin Milloy’s five-year battle centred around collecting gender information for social insurance numbers, but the settlement goes further with the Ministry of Social Development now agreeing to review the when and why it collects gender information from the public.
She says it could be the beginning of a sea change.
LISTEN: Christin Milloy argues gender should be left off ID
“There’s nothing more othering than being asked for your ID at a traffic stop, or at a party, or even at the convenience store and the person looks down at it, makes a face, and gives you a sideways glance. That’s dehumanizing, and it’s completely uneccessary,” Milloy told guest hosts Tim Dickert and Niki Reitmayer.
She argues there’s no longer a need to collect and display the information, which she says is a holdover from the days when women weren’t allowed to vote and marriage was legally between a man and a woman.
And she believes while there are clearly vocal opponents to the change, public sentiment is swinging towards the idea.
“I think [most] people more and more are starting to root for erring on the side of preventing rather than causing additional human rights violations,” she says.
There are currently seven countries that allow a third sex on their passports, and the International Civil Aviation Organization allows three possible values in the “sex” box: M, F, and X.
Milloy says the idea of “X” as a third option comes with its own problems.
“It really paints an X on the forehead of the person who has that on their card, because it’s like wearing a sign that says look, I’m transgender or what have you, please discriminate against me.”
She says the fairer solution is to simply drop the marker altogether – and suggests Canada could lead the way by marking all citizens’ passports with an X, so as not to single people out.
“It just becomes a new global reality where some countries, Canada perhaps being the first, simply don’t put a gender of male or female on their passport.”
Milloy says she’s not advocating for the destruction of gender. She acknowledges there are times the markers would need to be collected – such as at a doctor’s office, and she says she’d never want to get in the way of someone’s gender identity.
But she says there’s no reason the government needs to validate that identity either.
“Just like they don’t look at a driver’s license and see race printed on it.”