February 21, 2015 1:37 am
Updated: February 21, 2015 4:15 pm

New policy makes it easier for transgender Albertans to change birth documents

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WATCH ABOVE: The government has announced new rules to make it easier for transgender Albertans to change their birth certificates. Shallima Maharaj has the details. 

EDMONTON — The Alberta government is making it easier for transgender people in the province to make changes to their personal documents.

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In the past, transgender persons were required to have reassignment surgery in order to change the gender on a birth record. To file for the change, transgender Albertans were required to submit two affidavits from two different doctors stating that their gender has changed through surgery.

Now, only one affidavit and a doctor’s letter are required; and neither document requires the mention of gender reassignment surgery.

“Our laws respect the rights of Albertans, and reflect the values of a modern society. These regulatory changes support those important goals,” said Service Alberta Minister Stephen Khan.

The changes to the Vital Statistics Information Regulation mean transgender people can change their gender on any government-issued ID, including driver’s licences and birth certificates.

The changes come 10 months after a judge ruled that an Alberta law dealing with birth certificates violates the rights of transgender people.

READ MORE: Judge says law violates transgender rights

Marni Panas, a transgender woman who recently went through the process of getting her gender changed on her birth certificate and passport, said the move by the government is life-changing.

“Something like this affects so few people in this province, but to those people it’s life-changing, it’s life-saving,” Panas said Friday.

“Having an official legal document that says that you are a woman, the person that you always believed that you were, now somebody else sees it … that is so profound.”

Panas said it was difficult for her to travel to certain countries prior to receiving the gender amendment on her passport. She said the amendment has opened up her world.

“It’s odd, but that was a defining moment in my journey to say, ‘I am now me, the world sees that I’m me, everybody sees that I’m me.’ But more importantly, I can see that I’m me and I can travel and I can take my son and my spouse to places that we always dreamed of going,” Panas said.

READ MORE: ‘I used to think being me would be a barrier’: transgender woman honoured

Dr. Kristopher Wells with the University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services said the changes are a major step forward in supporting transgender people and their families.

“Removing barriers for some of our most vulnerable citizens represents progress in building a more inclusive, welcoming and respectful province for all Albertans,” Wells said.

Since last spring, 89 birth records have been amended in Alberta, including eight for youth between 12 and 18 years old.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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