Everyone is designated as either male or female on their birth certificate. For a vast majority of the population there’s no issue, but for people like 14-year-old Jordyn Dyck it’s a major problem.
“I feel like I can’t be the person I am truly,” Jordyn said.
Jordyn doesn’t identify as male or female. That notion becomes even more complicated when the teenager’s identification puts them in a box they don’t fit in.
Jordyn’s father Dustin Dyck is the chair of the Trans Umbrella Foundation. He is one of a handful of Saskatchewan parents suing the government for the right to remove or alter the gender markings on birth certificates for minors.
He has a hearing scheduled for Monday at Regina’s Court of Queen’s Bench.
WATCH: Push for gender-neutral ID for minors. Marney Blunt reports.
“Waiting until 18 is not a good option. Kids are killing themselves over this, so it’s super important we keep our kids healthy,” Dustin said.
A recent study from the University of British Columbia found that 50 per cent of trans youth in Saskatchewan and Manitoba have attempted suicide. Sixty per cent have engaged in self-harming behaviour.
“We’re not talking body altering surgeries. We’re talking a piece of paper with a letter on it, removing it or putting it on or changing it,” Dustin said.
“In my mind it’s something that shouldn’t be thought about. We’re saving kids’ lives by changing it.”
In British Columbia, a health card without a gender marker was recently issued to a baby.
Polling firm Angus Reid found that 58 per cent of Canadians oppose gender neutral birth certificates. In Saskatchewan, 75 per cent of respondents opposed the idea.
READ MORE: 58% of Canadians uncomfortable with gender neutral birth certificates: Poll ()
The Dyck’s are not alone in this. The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission (SHRC) are supporting Fran Forsberg in a similar matter. The Commission will be filing an application for a hearing on behalf of the Saskatoon-area mother by July 31.
“We believe that we can prove on a balance of probabilities that the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code has been violated with respect to this particular child on these particular facts,” Chief Commissioner David Arnot said.
The Ministry of Justice said they are aware the SHRC are applying for a hearing. In a statement, the ministry added they do not feel it is appropriate to comment further at this time because the matter is before the court.
Last March, rules for changing the gender on a Saskatchewan birth certificate were amended so trans individuals no longer had to provide proof of gender reassignment surgery.
Last year, Laura Budd became the first trans woman in Saskatchewan to have the gender on her birth certificate corrected.
Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, she said it was difficult growing up when she was considered a male.
“It put a whole bunch of expectations on me that I was to be masculine, that I wasn’t supposed to show my feelings,” Budd said.
“This is hugely important for youth to have that respect and have that validation that yes, we do see you as you see yourself.”
As for the lack of support in Saskatchewan for gender neutral birth certificates, Budd believes this can start a valuable conversation.
“I think we’re lacking in Saskatchewan, and it’s time that we had this discussion. Because there are so many people in our society that are gender fluid, agender, or they don’t fit into the binary that is masculine and feminine,” Budd said.