Manitoba NDP pushing for non-binary identification

Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew stands with Sam MacKinnon Wednesday afternoon.
Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew stands with Sam MacKinnon Wednesday afternoon. Diana Foxall/Global News

The Manitoba New Democratic Party introduced a private member’s bill Wednesday that would allow people to put a ‘X’ on their provincially-issued government ID.

This would follow in the footsteps of Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Northwest Territories, who allow residents to check off a non-binary option.

“It’s almost as if somebody is just shaving a little bit off of your soul every time you’re misgendered,” Sam MacKinnon, who is non-binary, said.

“And it goes so deep and it cuts so deep because it reminds you of all of the times in your life where you weren’t recognized for who you were, and where you still aren’t recognized for who you are.”

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The federal government also has a non-binary option for passports, which is represented with an ‘X’ instead of ‘M’ or ‘F’.

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READ MORE: Case over non-binary birth certificate back in Newfoundland court

“What I would like to see is an ‘X’ option that designates non-binary for a gender marker on all [provincial] identification documents,” MacKinnon said. ​”Right now, there’s only two options, ‘M’ and ‘F’, there’s no option for an ‘X’, there’s no option to fill anything in. I would like the ‘X’ option for non-binary people.”

MacKinnon was present as party leader Wab Kinew announced the NDP would be putting the bill forward at the legislature.

“This is very important,” Kinew said, noting that his constituent MacKinnon was the one to bring the matter forward to him. “I looked into it a bit and I thought, ‘Wow, this should have probably taken place already. I can’t believe that this is still an issue.'”

READ MORE: Vancouver resident applies for non-binary gender designation of ‘X’ on BC Health Card and driver’s license

He said the party wants to provide non-binary Manitobans with ID that reflects their identity.

“I understand that non-binary folks face a lot of barriers, and in some cases can face pain and stress as a result of being misgendered or being forced to identify as male or female,” Kinew said. “How I look at it is today, we know that non-binary folks are accepted in their circles, by friends and family, they’re accepted by their schools, so I think it’s time that the government send a strong signal, that we accept non-binary folks as well.”

Kinew said he wants the bill passed as soon as possible; ideally, before the house rises this summer.

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He considers this a non-partisan issue, and said he hopes the Progressive Conservatives see it the same way.